New COAG report looks at last five years of health reform

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Governments across Australia have been able to deliver some very positive health results over the past five years, a final report from the COAG Reform Council has found, but there continue to be some ongoing and emerging causes of concern. Council chair John Brumby pointed to life expectancy increases, falling rates of smoking and improved emergency department waiting times as some of the most pleasing outcomes, along with significant drops in the incidence of the country's two biggest killers -- cancer and circulatory disease. "Our national smoking rate has dropped to around 16 per cent, but must continue to fall to meet COAG's target of 10 per cent by 2018," Mr Brumby said.

Among the six areas of concern requiring further attention is the number of Australians who are overweight or obese and the number suffering from type 2 diabetes -- a quarter of whom don't know they have it and half of whom aren't managing their condition properly. The sharp increase in t he number of older Australians waiting more than nine months for high residential care -- from 3 per cent to 14 per cent in five years -- was also worrying, as well as the lack of access to affordable dental care, waiting times for elective surgery and preventable hospitalisation rates. Click here to access the report, Healthcare in Australia 2012-13: Five years of performance .

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