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Queensland pledges record health expenditure


Amanda Lyons


11/06/2019 3:14:31 PM

The state’s 2019–20 budget includes $19.2 billion for healthcare.

Queensland map
Health has received a spending boost in this year’s Queensland state budget, but there is little set aside for general practice.

After a year of natural disasters and a defeat for its party in the Federal Election, Queensland’s Labor Government faces some difficult conditions for the release of its 2019–20 Budget, to be tabled in State Parliament this week.
 
But in spite of financial challenges – which include a $3 billion budget hole due to the impacts of natural disaster and decreasing revenue from sources such as GST – State Treasurer Jackie Trad has assured Queenslanders not to expect a ‘bad news’ budget.
 
This is particularly the case in the health sector, with an announcement of a record $19.2 billion to be spent in this area, an increase of $929 million from the last budget.
 
‘[Queenslanders] can expect that we will continue to roll out and deliver the services that they need in health and education,’ Minister Trad said.
 
It appears the state’s health budget is mostly focused on hospitals, with very little funding for general practice.
 
‘All investment in healthcare is important, and we applaud the Queensland Government in its effort to improve its hospital system,’ RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon told newsGP.
 
‘But focusing on hospitals for the majority of care is not sustainable. We have to look at innovative approaches, and how we can connect hospitals to community-based care.’
 
Queensland Health’s Specialist Outpatient Strategy, which has received an additional $154.7 million in funding, shows some effort in this area in its aims to embed consistent electronic referral practices across the state and provide GPs an online portal to track a patient’s progress through the system.
 
But there is little else earmarked towards general practice.
 
‘Only 15% of the population will use a hospital each year, while 90% of the population will see a GP,’ Dr Nespolon said.
 
Dr Bruce Willet, Chair of RACGP Queensland, agrees, and believes the RACGP has an important role in advocating for general practice and better patient outcomes.
 
‘I look forward to continuing to work with the Queensland Government on ways we can improve healthcare for our patients,’ he told newsGP.
 
‘While I thank the Queensland Government for the excellent work they are doing in the area of real-time prescription monitoring, the RACGP remains deeply concerned over the issue of pharmacy antibiotic prescribing and will continue to work tirelessly to overturn this decision for the wellbeing of future Queenslanders and Australians.’
 
The Queensland Government has flagged a commitment to boosting regional towns and cities, with Minister Trad stating, ‘We can’t have a strong economy if we don’t have strong regions’.
 
This commitment is also reflected in the Queensland Government’s health spending, with $84.8 million put into the Enhancing Regional Hospitals Program. Hospitals will also receive further funding through the Building Better Hospitals program, a $679 million funding package designed to enhance public hospital capacity and services in the south-west Queensland growth corridor.
 
Minister Trad has also promised an increase in frontline healthcare staff, including doctors, paramedics and nurses, with $166.6 million put aside for recruitment of nurses and midwives alone.
 
Adolescent mental health is also acknowledged, with $28.1 million set aside for specific facilities for youth in south-west Queensland, while $62 million in funding is aimed towards tackling the state’s high suicide rate with enhanced suicide prevention and services.
 
In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, the Deadly Choices Healthy Lifestyle Program will be extended for two more years with $16 million in funding.
 
Alcohol and drug treatment services in central Queensland will also receive a boost, with $14.3 million set aside for a new 42-bed residential drug rehabilitation and treatment facility to be opened in Rockhampton.



budget health spending hospitals Queensland



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Farzana Mitra   12/06/2019 12:31:09 PM

All that the Qld. Government is doing seems good, but what about the General Practitioners and their remunerations and medicare rebates? General practice is the coal-face between doctors and patients, if there are no incentives and lack of concern for GPs no amount of funding poured in Hospitals will show returns or value for money. The constant nibbling away of general practice and fragmentation of care by pharmacists on one hand, and nurse practitioners on another have left most GPs disgruntled. Future doctors would not like to specialise in General Practice because earnings are not on par with other Specialities. Many specialists specially in the Hospital system also behave in a condescending way towards GPs further eroding self esteem.


Farzana Mitra   12/06/2019 12:40:48 PM

All that the Qld. Government is doing seems good, but what about the General Practitioners and their remunerations and medicare rebates? General practice is the coal-face between doctors and patients, if there are no incentives and lack of concern for GPs no amount of funding poured in Hospitals will show returns or value for money. The constant nibbling away of general practice and fragmentation of care by pharmacists on one hand, and nurse practitioners on another have left most GPs disgruntled. Future doctors would not like to specialise in General Practice because earnings are not on par with other Specialities. Its time that our College and AMC are firm with the Government. It amazes me that Pharmacists lobby can get millions of dollars funding for various enterprises, they can prescribe and dispense causing no conflicts of interest, whereas doctors cannot own a pharmacy because 'this may cause a conflict of interest'.


Dr Evan Wayne Ackermann   12/06/2019 5:08:19 PM

The increasing expenditure in hospitals should really be viewed as a failure to invest in primary care. More emphasis should be focussed on potentially preventable hospital admissions.


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