The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights has been revised to encourage people receiving health care in Australia, as well as their family and carers, to more actively engage in decisions about their care with their healthcare provider.
Launched on 8 August 2019, the second edition of the Charter, developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, describes rights that apply to people in all healthcare settings across Australia and reflects an increased focus on person-centred care. The importance of informed consent and open disclosure, as well as the need for the medical profession to partner with consumers in healthcare delivery are highlighted.
The Charter outlines what every person can expect when receiving care and describes seven fundamental rights including: access, safety, respect, partnership, information, privacy and giving feedback. Its use is embedded in the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards that all hospitals and other acute health services must meet to stay accredited.
The new Charter explains a patient’s rights to privacy in practice, it expands on the importance of informed consent and open disclosure, and it reflects the increased focus of the medical profession on partnering with the consumer in the delivery of health care in Australia
Commission Chair Professor Villis Marshall AC said the release was the first major update to the original Charter, adopted by Australian Health Ministers in 2008.
“The inaugural Charter was a landmark document and the second edition builds on that strong foundation,” he said. “Community attitudes to health are constantly evolving and we reviewed the Charter through that lens, to ensure it reflected what the wider community believe are their appropriate healthcare rights in today’s landscape, and to clarify areas that required further explanation.
“The new Charter explains a patient’s rights to privacy in practice, it expands on the importance of informed consent and open disclosure, and it reflects the increased focus of the medical profession on partnering with the consumer in the delivery of health care in Australia,” said Professor Marshall.
Welcomed by Consumer Groups
Consumer groups and advocates have welcomed the renewed focus that a new Charter brings on the rights of patients, their families and carers.
“Australia is among a small number of countries to have a Charter of Healthcare Rights. The Charter helps crystallise what consumers can expect from their health care. These attitudes and expectations will continue to evolve and grow and the Charter will evolve with them, and that is a good thing,” said Melissa Fox, Chief Executive Officer of Health Consumers Queensland.
“We look forward to the Charter coming to life through its promotion and use throughout health services and the community.”
Dr Grant Davies, South Australia’s Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner, explained, “In practical terms, the Charter provides a set of clear directions to consumers of how they can participate in the health care they receive. It encourages consumers to be equal partners in that healthcare delivery and it also makes health service providers aware of what their obligations are with consumers.”