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A revised Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights has been launched today in a bid to encourage people receiving healthcare in Australia to actively engage in decision-making regarding their care with their healthcare provider.

The second edition of the charter, developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, outlines rights that apply to people across all healthcare settings in Australia and features an increased focus on person-centred care.

It describes what people can expect when receiving care and pinpoints seven fundamental rights:

  • Access
  • Safety
  • Respect
  • Partnership
  • Information
  • Privacy
  • Giving Feedback

Australia is among a small number of countries to have a Charter of Healthcare Rights and it is embedded in the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards which all hospitals and other acute services must meet to stay accredited.

“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,” Commission Chair Professor Villis Marshall said.

“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 healthcare in Australia.”

As well as providing a set of clear directions to consumers on how they can take ownership and engage in the healthcare they receive, the charter also assists healthcare professionals, who can use it to talk to patients about their rights when accessing the health system.

Consumers Health Forum of Australia CEO Leanne Wells said the new charter gave welcome recognition to the evolving place of the patient as a partner in decisions about their care.

“The strong positioning of the patient’s rights, roles and responsibilities represents an important development in the part that consumers and patients can expect to play in their healthcare, taking a partnership role with their doctor in decisions about care, and more generally having a far greater say in the health service decision-making and design.”

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