Public hospitals left high and dry in Budget
The 2021-22 Federal Budget includes $121.4 billion in national health spending in the next financial year.
Despite record investment, Australia’s public hospitals have been
short-changed. While our public hospital system is struggling meet the
overwhelming demand of a growing and ageing population, the Budget
lacked much needed funding for Australia’s public hospitals. The Federal
Budget acknowledges that Australia will be opening its borders in 2022
to the threat of COVID-19, however we do not have a health system that
is prepared for opening again. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how
important frontline doctors and health services are. Serious investment
and support for public hospitals is needed to ensure they are properly
staffed and resourced.
Theaged care sector will receive a much needed $18 billion boost over five
years. However, the measures have been criticised as piecemeal and
inadequate by health experts. The Royal Commission into Aged Care
Quality and Safety recommended a "landmark Australian social policy
reform" that would guarantee well trained and well-paid staff overseen
by a transparent independent auditor. Unfortunately, the Government has
neglected this recommendation, with the announcement falling short of
the vision required to improve a system in crisis.
Rural doctors have welcomed the recognition by the Federal government of the
need to better support smaller rural, remote and regional comminates
across Australia. The Federal Budget announced more funding for the John
Flynn Prevocational Doctor Training Program (formerly the Rural Junior
Doctor Training Innovation Fund), from 110 full-time equivalent (FTE)
junior doctor places in 2022 to 200 FTE places by 2025. However, rural
doctors have said the number of training places need to double again in
the coming years to enable junior doctors to undertake training in rural
areas. The Budget also announced an additional $49.4 million to support
increased palliative care and dementia care in MMM 2-7 locations.
A further $2.3 billion was allocated to mental health services over four
years, although doctors have suggested that won't be enough to alleviate
the stress and pressures caused by the COVID pandemic and recent