The Health budget for 2014-15 highlighted the central role of frontline services in the Queensland Government’s strong plan for a better future, Treasurer Tim Nicholls said today.
Mr Nicholls said spending on health would increase by 6.4 per cent to $13.6 billion in 2014-15.
“This budget carefully balances increases in health, education and community services spending, while not introducing or raising any new taxes or cutting services,” Mr Nicholls said.
“It outlines our plan to secure the State’s finances by making the strongest and smartest choice to reduce debt so we can sustainably invest in the hospitals, schools and other vital infrastructure our growing state will need.”
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the $13.6 billion operating budget meant that in Health alone, the LNP’s commitment was $2 billion more than the last budget under Labor.
“Since 2011-12 health spending has increased by 18.6 per cent,” Mr Springborg said.
The Minister said more than $11 billion (or 80.8% of the total) would provide public healthcare services from Hospital and Health Service (HHS) Boards and others including Mater Health Services and St Vincent’s Health Australia.
“The budget increase will enable significant service expansion during 2014-15, including in the Darling Downs, Gold Coast, Metro South and Sunshine Coast HHSs,” he said.
“Across the State, it provides for capital investment of $1.55 billion to build new health facilities and to continue our campaign to address the longstanding maintenance backlog inherited from Labor.”
In line with the Government’s commitment to frontline health delivery, HHSs will benefit in the coming year from savings realised through corporate changes to the Department of Health (exclusive of HHSs) in 2012-13.
“We promised more for frontline services,” he said.
“This is $96 million transferred from administration to health services across the state.
“New and expanded services will include orthopaedics, radiation oncology, mental health services, urology, respiratory medicine, dialysis, endoscopy and allied health services.
“From July 1, Queensland’s first Health Ombudsman will take full responsibility for an integrated state-wide health complaints network.
“Later this year, the opening of the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital will create the biggest public children’s hospital in the country, at the centre of a state-wide network of safe and sustainable children’s health services.
“New and expanded children’s health services will include new clinics to treat obesity, pain and allergies, a specialist adolescent service, and paediatric renal treatment.
“In 2014-15, 155 new and replacement ambulances will be commissioned and an extra 100 ambulance officers will be recruited. Following the success of a recent trial, a low-acuity paramedic service will be rolled out in the Townsville, Metro South, Metro North and Gold Coast areas.”
Mr Springborg said the community dividend of better health management would support a range of initiatives in 2014-15 including:
- additional hospital activity and service improvements targeting patient’s outpatient appointments
- a new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategy to improve, rationalise and simplify health ICT including private partnerships for the innovative delivery of health services
Further initiatives that will commence from 1 July 2014 include:
- planning to establish Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) services at Toowoomba Hospital
- delivery of a Mobile Surgical Van pilot program for rural and remote communities
- initiatives to optimise the use of the allied health professional workforce to improve patient access and address waiting times
- continuing ongoing funding of $4.1 million per year for hearing health outreach services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under the award-winning Deadly Ears, Deadly Kids, Deadly Communities Program
- investment of $1.2 million to jointly fund Wellbeing Centres at Aurukun, Hope Vale, Coen and Mossman Gorge with the Australian Government
- supporting the Government’s ‘Safe Night Out’ Strategy by delivering compulsory counselling for individuals involved in alcohol related violence
- expanding support for rural drought declared communities through additional mental health support workshops provided by non-Government organisations and additional mental health and wellbeing programs developed by the Department of Health
- a further $5.5 million to help five HHSs enhance ambulatory and primary health care models including mental health, chronic disease, emergency care and outreach services
Highlights of the 2014-15 Capital investment program include:
- $255.2 million towards the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital and Centre for Children’s Health Research (at a total cost of $1.513 billion)
- $369.8 million towards the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital (at a total cost of $1.872 billion)
- $114.2 million allocated to Hospital and Health Services for capital purchases and health technology equipment
- $81.8 million to continue the $327 million four year Backlog Maintenance Remediation Program providing capital expenditure and maintenance funding to address high priority and critical operational maintenance, life cycle replacements and upgrades