NSW pledges $10 billion for ‘hospital building blitz’

Matt Woodley

18/06/2019 3:26:04 PM

The state’s 2019–20 budget includes funding for more than 40 new and upgraded hospital builds, but GPs and primary care go unmentioned.

Dominic Perrottet
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said NSW would deliver ‘a hospital building blitz’ but did not mention GPs. (Image: Dean Lewins)

The Government’s Budget Paper also makes no mention of preventive health, despite the latest Bureau of Health Information quarterly report revealing record numbers of patients flooding emergency departments (EDs) across the state.
ED attendances reached a record 750,000 in the first three months of 2019, forcing more than one in three patients with imminently life-threatening conditions to wait longer than the clinically-recommended time for treatment to commence.
Dr Matthew Vukasovic, Head of Emergency Medicine at the state’s lowest-rated ED, Westmead Hospital, told Fairfax the majority of patients admitted there were from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, whose first point of contact with a medical service was the ED after their condition had already deteriorated.
In delivering his 2019–20 budgetary address, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the state would deliver ‘a hospital building blitz that has never been seen before’, as well as ‘world class healthcare in world class hospitals’.
‘I can announce today, for the first time ever, our health infrastructure budget hits the $10 billion mark, with new facilities planned for every corner of the state,’ he said.
‘Our health system will be boosted to fast-track an additional 8000 paediatric operations and 10,000 cataract surgeries. That means more staff and less pressure on wait times, and quality care when you need it.’
The budget also contains funding for 5000 additional nurses as part of a $2.8 billion initiative to recruit 8300 frontline health staff over the next four years, with 45% slated for regional NSW.
The frontline health staff targets include 1060 medical staff, such as doctors, psychiatrists and specialists to ‘enhance response times for patients waiting in EDs, for elective surgery and for psychiatric care’, 880 allied health staff, and 1360 hospital support staff.
There is also funding ($88.4 million over four years) for youth mental health in the form of 100 additional school counsellors and psychologists, 350 student support officers, and dedicated services for rural and remote students, while $23.5 million has been pledged over the same period to Lifeline and Kids Helpline.
The $23.6 billion in health function expenses budgeted for 2019–20 account for 28.4% of total recurrent expenses, while the $2.7 billion in capital expenditure on healthcare equates to just over 12% of total 2019–20 capital expenditure.

budget government expenditure New South Wales

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