New Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights empowers patients

A revised ‘Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights’ that launches today encourages people receiving healthcare in Australia to actively engage in decisions about their care with their healthcare provider.

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 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.

“Today’s release marks 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,” said Commission Chair Professor Villis Marshall AC.

“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.”

Consumer groups and advocates have welcomed the renewed focus that a new charter brings on the rights of patients, their families and carers.

Dr Grant Davies, South Australia’s Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner, explained: “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.”

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