Page 1607 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

A full range of health services and the public infrastructure to support healthy lifestyles takes a government that is committed to a healthy and wealthy community. It takes vision to understand how such investments have a positive impact on our economy, and it takes a government that has a long-term vision, not one that is held captive by a four-year election cycle. It also takes a government that is ready for the challenges of the future.

Across all aspects of health service delivery we have demonstrated we are working towards our aim of a more equitable and accessible health system. Since coming to office we have almost tripled the amount of funding allocated to health services, from $472 million in 2001 to $1.393 billion in this financial year. That level of growth is unmatched in other areas of government. However, challenges still remain. As our population ages, so too will our workforce.

Right now we are in the enviable position of having access to a good supply of highly skilled staff, with large numbers of new recruits available each year to take over from those who retire or move elsewhere. But in the long term the picture is not the same. We know that over the next 10 to 15 years we will have to be more innovative in how we construct and deploy our health workforce to ensure that the community gets the level of care it deserves. We also have to think about new cooperative arrangements, working across clinical disciplines, that will not impact on patient care and help us to provide a sustainable health system in the future.

This is not a cause for panic or off-the-cuff responses; we have time, but we need to do the planning now. That is why our current investment in new services, buildings and technology is important. However, this will require new funding allocations to ensure that our community is not left behind. All of this demonstrates the neglect of the commonwealth government in walking away from its commitments under the national health reform agreement to adequately fund public hospital services into the future. Many figures have been bandied about in relation to the full impact of the commonwealth funding cuts. But however you look at the numbers, they paint a bleak picture for our future public hospital sector.

The minister has already made statements today about the response of organisations like the Australian Medical Association, which has reported the commonwealth public hospital funding position as a perfect storm. In looking at the four years from 2014-15 that were reported in the 2014-15 federal budget papers, the ACT will lose $190 million in commonwealth financial support for public hospital services over the period to 2017-18. That is $190 million less over just four years, mainly due to the removal of funding guarantees that were a part of the national health reform agreement for the period to 2016-17 and the revision to a population-based funding model in the 2017-18 financial year.

Based on the figures reflected in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 budgets, together with changes over the 2014-15 financial year in terms of activity projections and the MYEFO outcome, the four-year issue for the ACT is a drop in funding for public hospital services of $190 million. We talk about this number because the budget provides a four-year picture of funding estimates by government. But the 2014-15

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video