COVID funding extension a welcome ‘stopgap’

June 21, 2022

The Victorian Healthcare Association welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s announcement to extend 50:50 hospital funding for COVID-19 response, but longer-term and larger-scale reform of health system funding is needed to recover from the pandemic.

National Cabinet agreed to extend the National Partnership on COVID-19 Response for a further three months to 31 December 2022, in recognition of the pressures in the health and hospital system exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘The extension of this funding is welcomed as a short-term stopgap, but much more is needed to meet the demand on the health system,’ VHA CEO Tom Symondson said.

The VHA continues to advocate for the Commonwealth Government to provide 50:50 funding for hospitals, as well as an increased focus on services that keep people healthy and well – and out of the hospital system.

‘This pandemic is far from over. Despite initial drops in activity at the start of the pandemic, the demand for care has since exceeded pre-pandemic levels,’ Mr Symondson said.

‘The health system is still responding to COVID-19, managing a serious influenza outbreak, and catching up on surgeries and other care delayed during lockdowns.’

‘We need a fair funding deal for Victorian public hospitals and greater recognition of the critical role community health services play in the health and wellbeing of Victorians.’

The VHA wants the Commonwealth Government to provide equal funding into the National Health Reform Agreement and remove the 6.5 per cent growth cap to ensure there are no artificial restrictions hampering the pandemic response and the health system’s recovery.

The VHA is also calling for out-of-hospital care – delivered by community health services – to be included in the NHRA, supporting the Agreement’s aim to prioritise prevention.