Australia: Health Reform Takes Shape In Queensland


The implementation of National Health Reform has finally arrived in Queensland with the introduction of the Health and Hospitals Network Bill 2011 (the Bill).

The Bill was presented to State Parliament on 16 June 2011 and has progressed through the first and second readings. A six week consultative process is now underway before a final vote is taken.


The primary objectives of the Bill are the establishment of a public sector health system that delivers high quality hospital and other health services, in alignment with the principles and objectives of the National Health Agreement.* They are to be achieved through the following measures:

  • Strengthening local decision making and accountability;
  • Local consumer and community engagement;
  • Providing for State-wide health system management, including health system planning, co-ordination and standard setting; and
  • Balancing the benefits of local and system-wide approaches.

Key Provisions

Health Services Act 1991 (HSA)

The Bill repeals the HSA. However, some of the provisions of the HSA have been preserved and enhanced in the Bill, for example:

  • the establishment of quality assurance committees;
  • the undertaking of root cause analysis;
  • confidentiality provisions; and
  • health service investigations.

Local Health and Hospital Networks (Networks)

  • The Bill provides for the establishment of Networks as separate statutory authorities in order to devolve operational management for public hospitals to the local level.
  • Each Network is a separate legal entity to be the principal providers of public health sector services in Queensland. The Networks are body corporates representing the State, and as such, enjoy the privileges and immunities of the State.
  • Regulations will specify those public sector hospitals, facilities and services for which the Network is responsible. These are expected to be divided into 17 local health and hospital networks.
  • Various functions of the Networks are specified in the Bill and include:
    • the carrying out of operations efficiently, effectively and economically;
    • the implementation of State-wide plans and undertaking of further planning in the Network area;
    • the monitoring and improvement of the quality of health service delivered by the Network;
    • the development of local clinical governance arrangements;
    • undertaking minor capital works and maintaining assets; and
    • co-operation and consultation with other service providers, local primary health care organisations (Medicare locals), Network health professionals and health consumers and community members.
  • Each Network is to be independently and locally controlled by an expertise-based Governing Council and overseen by a Network chief executive. Governing Councils will consist of five or more members appointed by the Governor in Council on recommendation by the Minister, including persons with expertise in:
    • health management;
    • business management;
    • financial management;
    • human resource management;
    • clinical expertise;
    • legal expertise;
    • primary health care;
    • health consumer and community issues; and
    • universities, clinical school or research centres.
  • Networks will have the power to employ Network chief executives and other health executives, but not other staff until the Network has demonstrated to the departmental chief executive that it has the appropriate capacity and capability to administer human resource matters.
  • Land and buildings, and other prescribed assets, will continue to be owned by the State.
  • Networks will be held directly accountable for hospital performance, with clear lines of responsibility and new reporting on clinical and financial performance at the Network and facility level. Community members will have access to information including how their Network's or hospital's performance compares with like Networks or facilities.
  • Through the execution of service agreements with the State, new funding models create an explicit relationship between the funds allocated and the services provided, thereby focusing the Network on outputs, outcomes and quality.
  • Networks are to co-operate with other service providers and local primary health care organisations. Networks are also required to develop a protocol with Medicare locals to facilitate co-operation in the planning and delivery of health services.
  • Networks are required to develop and publish a clinician engagement strategy and a consumer and community engagement strategy, each of which must meet the minimum requirements prescribed under Regulation.

System Managers

The State, through the departmental chief executive, will play a support role of "system manager", to the Networks in order to ensure consistency of service, access and quality across the State.

The State's responsibilities include:

  • entering into service agreements with Networks to provide public sector health services;
  • system-wide health service planning and policy;
  • system-wide public hospital capital planning and management;
  • State-wide public hospital industrial relations;
  • setting employment conditions and remuneration for staff working in Networks;
  • monitoring Network performance, including taking action to address poor performance;
  • issuing binding health service directives to Networks; and
  • providing performance data to the Commonwealth.

Performance Reporting and Auditing

  • Performance data provided by a Network to the departmental chief executive pursuant to a service agreement may be validated by the departmental chief executive and provided to the Commonwealth.
    • The Bill provides for a health service auditor to be appointed to:

    • examine the accuracy of performance data and other data;

    • investigate the circumstances leading to the inability of a Network or a specialised health service to meet relevant performance measures; and

  • investigate any other matter for the effective and efficient use of available resources.
  • The Bill outlines wide powers of health service auditors, including the entering of a public sector health facility at any time the facility is open for business or otherwise open for entry. An auditor may also require an employee to give the auditor a document, including a document that contains confidential information.


The Bill's introduction into State Parliament demonstrates the Queensland Government's legislative commitments that arise from COAG agreements on National Health Reform.

These changes highlight the way in which public health services are to be delivered to the people of Queensland, with increased local autonomy and accountability which is directly linked to performance. It is hoped that these initiatives will better position the health system to meet the challenges associated with the ongoing funding of a population afflicted with a growing incidence of chronic disease and longevity.

*The Council of Australian Government's (COAG) Inter-Governmental Agreement, as agreed on 20 April 2010, and the COAG Heads of Agreement on National Health Reform, as agreed on 13 February 2011

Cooper Grace Ward was named Best Australian Law Firm in the BRW Client Choice Awards 2010 - Revenue < $50m. Joint Best Australian Law Firm in the BRW Client Choice Awards 2009 - Revenue < $50m.
The firm has also been named as the fastest growing law firm in Australia for 2009 by The Australian.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.