Special funding to help country health services become more productive has been announced by Health Minister Ian Taylor.
Mr Taylor said $1 million had been allocated as a part of the health productivity package and the Health Department was now calling for submissions under the Productivity Improvement Program.
The program was to fund innovative programs that promoted the best possible practice in health care in country regions.
"The funding will be made available to country hospitals, health regions, shire councils and local communities on a competitive bidding basis, to help make better use of existing health resources," Mr Taylor said.
"This will complement other measures being taken to improve access to needed hospital care and reduce the time people wait for elective surgery.
"We are looking for initiatives that increase throughput, reduce bed days or improve productivity of hospitals.
"We also give special emphasis to projects that involve local people in their planning and implementation."
Examples of eligible projects included:
· introduction of improved medical technologies;
· introduction of improved clinical practice (eg minimally invasive surgical techniques such as laparoscopy and hysteroscopy);
· post-operative domiciliary services for country people receiving services in the metropolitan area;
· redesign of clinical or administrative management systems;
· introduction of more competitive or business-like management environments.
Projects were expected to include clinical input to ensure quality of care would be maintained or enhanced.
Mr Taylor said funding for the program had been provided in response to the Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Country Hospitals and Nursing Posts.
It was expected that funded initiatives would be consistent with the recommendations of this report.
Funding would be offered in two rounds. Submissions for the first round would close on December 24, 1992 and for the second round on January 31, 1993.
Application details were currently being advertised.
This funding was additional to and separate from money provided under the Medicare Incentive Package.