My name is Michael Lambert and I was appointed to the role of Administrator of the National Health Funding Pool (the Administrator) on 17 July 2018. My career has covered four broad areas: public policy and finance in the NSW Treasury; investment banking; non–executive director roles; and working in areas related to the health sector.

In my previous roles I have worked as senior executive in investment banking, working for a number of international investment banks and specialising in advising governments in Australia and overseas. Prior to that, I had worked for the NSW Government for 17 years in a range of senior positions culminating in the role of Treasury Secretary. Whilst working in NSW Government, I had oversight of the health sector.

I have also held Non–Executive Directorships within the health sector, including the NSW Northern Suburbs Area Health Board and the NSW Cancer Council. More recently I have held a number of non–executive director positions including with Energy Australia and the State Superannuation Fund. I also am currently a non–executive director with the Sax Institute, a not for profit organisation that seeks to align health research to health policy and programs in order to improve health outcomes, and act as a pro bono senior advisor on health economics.

I hold an Honours and Masters degree in Economics, and a Masters in Philosophy, and am also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

My Responsibilities

I am supported by the National Health Funding Body (NHFB) to oversee the responsible, efficient and effective administration of Commonwealth and State and Territory public hospital funding and payments under the National Health Reform (NHR) Agreement.

In 2018–19, $49 billion in payments were made to LHNs from a total of $50 billion in funding contributions for public hospital services. The balance of $1 billion was paid direct to States and Territories for public health funding.

The great bulk of these payments are to fund Local Hospital Networks (LHNs) which provide hospital based acute and sub–acute services but also non–admitted services outside the hospital environment through community health centres and other facilities. The payments include the Commonwealth’s contribution to State and Territory public health funding which are calculated by the NHFB and reviewed and approved by the Administrator and advised to the Commonwealth Treasurer.

A vital part of the role of LHNs is to work closely with their regional Primary Health Network (PHN) which have responsibility for coordinating and supporting the provision of primary care, promoting improved public health and undertaking preventive health activities.

A coordinated approach across each region involving LHNs and PHNs facilitates effective health planning for the region, delivers integrated care for patients and can avoid unnecessary hospitalisations.

The year ahead

During the coming year I will actively engage with all jurisdictional representatives and allied organisations such as the IHPA, the AIHW and the ACSQHC. A particular priority will be to provide advice on ways to improve funding arrangements as part of the development of the new NHR Agreement.

Another area to be explored is whether the funding system encourages the provision of integrated care across the health system or if there are disincentives in this regard and if so, how to address these.

Finally, I thank the NHFB CEO, Shannon White and the NHFB staff for their dedicated efforts in supporting me to fulfil my obligations and responsibilities.

Michael Lambert