Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Budget for 2009 - 2010

Overall, HCCA is pleased to see that the Government has made provisions for services to meet the growing demand, despite the financial crisis. The budget makes provision for further development of the services as set out in Your Health - Our Priority, especially the e-health infrastructure and the design and construction of the community health centre at Belconnen. while we recognise that there is funding to build GP workforce, and funding the in-hours locum service, we are disappointed that there are not more initiatives aimed at improving access to primary health care for older people and will work with the GP Task Force to find ways to overcome this seemingly intractable problem.

We welcome the expenditure for electronic health capacity and infrastructure and consider that it is essential to building a robust and efficient health service for our community.

Enhanced Community Health Centre for Belconnen
HCCA welcomes the Government’s provision of $51.3m for the design and construction of the ECHC at Belconnen. We are very pleased that this has been brought forward, and consider that this offers great potential to develop services for those people in the Belconnen region. We look forward seeing the ACT Government working with the community to identify the services that will best meet the needs of that community. We are also very interested to see how the ECHC will work with the services that will be offered with the West Belconnen Health Cooperative so that they complement each other rather than duplicate services. We also look forward to seeing sufficient flexibility built into the design of the facility to enable other services to be located here over time, such as the ACT Health Equipment Service.

Walk in Centre - The Canberra Hospital
We look forward to working with the Government in the development of the walk in centre for The Canberra Hospital.

Cancer Services
We note the increase in funding for cancer services ($4.2m over four years). Comprehensive cancer services however, need to be provided far sooner than as stated in the documents, to effectively deal with the burden of disease.

There is no specific provision for growth in public hospital services on the Bruce campus, while we acknowledge there is uncertainty of who will operate this, we would like to see provision for the development of services to complement those provided across the Territory.

Work Force
There is recognition that people are experiencing difficulty accessing GPs; the budget includes $1.9m to establish an in-hours aged care locum service. we consider that this funding allocation is insufficient in view of the demand we see in residential aged care facilities, older people living independently in the community, people with disabilities and other people with mobility issues.

We are pleased to see the funding of 15 new health assistants. We support the notion of the development of more innovative clinical roles, but we note with some concern there is no specific funding to further increase the role of nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners have demonstrated their worth as an effective adjunct to traditional roles and we would like to see more funding to increase the number of nurse practitioners in the health workforce.

We welcome the intiatives to build our GP workforce, including the four training positions in general practice for junior doctors and the medical graduate scholarships.

Support for Consumers with Chronic Conditions
We welcome the allocation of $4.2m over 4 years to ensure better support for people with chronic conditions; we call on the government for further support of these programs once they have proven to be effective. We would expect to see considerable increase in funding to enable the roll out to more people in the community.

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