Victoria and Northern Territory: A tale of two health budgets

Doug Hendrie

2/05/2018 1:30:45 PM

The Victorian Government is tipping money into fixing the state’s mental health system and expanding hospitals, but the Northern Territory’s deteriorating financial outlook has meant limited new spending on health.

Victoria and the Northern Territory will both spend considerably on their hospital systems.
Victoria and the Northern Territory will both spend considerably on their hospital systems.

Victoria and the Northern Territory (NT) both released their budgets this week.
Victoria’s population, property and jobs surge has given the state government a big election-year war chest.
More than $700 million will be spent to fix the state’s troubled mental health and addiction services in the wake of news that two out of three people seeking expert mental health help are being turned away. 
And new crisis hubs will be built in emergency departments at six hospitals across Melbourne and Geelong to tackle the issue of violent ice-affected patients.
However, Victorian GPs were mostly overlooked, with the exception of a $6.7 million immunisation program to tackle meningococcal and influenza.
The state government will also press ahead and fund the proposed Victorian Heart Hospital for specialised cardiac treatment in Clayton, south-east of Melbourne.
Regional Victorian hospitals will also get a boost, including a major expansion of Ballarat Base Hospital. The major Melbourne hospital precinct in Parkville will get $124 million for a collective electronic medical records system. Patient records across the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health and the Royal Women’s Hospital will join the Royal Children’s Hospital’s existing system.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the overall state health spend was $4.2 billion. He said the focus on mental health and drugs and alcohol is about funding a healthcare system that ‘recognises each patient is a parent, a child, an employee, a loved one’.
The NT’s health announcements were comparatively minimal, given the territory is now in deficit.  
A total of $35 million will be spent expanding access to cancer services at the Royal Darwin Hospital with a new positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, cyclotron and radiopharmacy facility, as well as expanded chemotherapy services.
The new Palmerston Regional Hospital got a $23 million funding boost to support its operations, while the Nightcliff renal facility in Darwin will be expanded from 28 to 32 chairs.
The NT Government will spend $15 million on specialised alcohol treatment for problem drinkers.
Programs targeting chronic ear disease and hearing loss will be expanded for children under five in Tennant Creek, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Darwin and more remote areas.

budget health-system hospitals northern-territory victoria

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