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Commonwealth Budget a mixed bag for Victoria's health system

Posted 13 May 2015

The Commonwealth Budget handed down tonight includes some positive announcements but overall has missed the mark in ensuring a fair, effective and sustainable future for Victoria’s public health system.

Acting VHA CEO Tom Symondson said the Commonwealth Budget represents a mixed bag for Victoria.

“Whilst there are some positive announcements, these will come as cold comfort for Victoria’s public hospitals and community health services given the continued uncertainty around hospital funding and the lack of investment in prevention,” Mr Symondson said.

“Following the concerning changes to hospital funding arrangements last year under the National Health Reform Agreement, which saw the Commonwealth remove over $13 billion from Victoria’s hospitals in the 10 years from 2017, the lack of movement on this issue remains a massive problem.

“This continued uncertainty will put further stress on Victoria’s already financially strained public health system and we call on the Commonwealth Government to engage the sector in a meaningful conversation aimed at ensuring our health services receive the resources they need to meet growing demand.

“It is also disappointing the Commonwealth Budget has failed to deliver much needed funding for prevention after it cancelled the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Preventative Health last year that funded the extremely successful Healthy Together Victoria initiative.

“At a time when more people are presenting with chronic illnesses, obesity rates are rising and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, it is crucial preventative and primary health is prioritised, not just to rein in acute health spending but for the individual wellbeing of Victorians.

“Preventative health is the responsibility of all tiers of government and the social and economic benefits are gained at all levels.

“So it is difficult to accept that the driving force behind the Commonwealth Government’s decision to cut health spending from 2017-18 onwards is due to an unaffordable health system when it is the same government that scrapped the NPA on Preventative Health, which would deliver significant savings in healthcare in the future.

“Despite this uncertainty, we are pleased to see investment in addressing the ice epidemic, the first distributions from the Medical Research Future Fund, a $26.4 million boost to immunisation funding, $10.2 million to improve organ and tissue donation transplant rates and a move to make the electronic health record system opt out.”

Mr Symondson also welcomed the announcement of a $155 million 12-month National Partnership Agreement on Adult Public Dental Services but said he was concerned to see it replace a previously announced $1.3 billion commitment over four years.

“Whilst we welcome this short-term investment, Victoria’s public dental patients deserve more certainty than 12 months of funding provides. We call on the Commonwealth to ensure dental care continues to be a priority in future years and that it is adequately funded to meet growing demand,” Mr Symondson said.

For more information contact

Rachel White – 0438 815 561

Senior Media Adviser

rachel.white@vha.org.au

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