Tuesday, June 4, 2013

HCCA response to the ACT Budget 2013

The ACT Treasurer brought down the ACT Budget today in the Legislative Assembly. The Chief Minister said today that it is a measured and responsible budget, avoiding the need to slash and burn and they have struck a good balance between core service delivery and commitments made last year.

We are pleased to see growth funding for public health services and that they are continuing to fund their commitments to realise their vision for a healthy community. The infrastructure funds are welcome, in particular funding for the University of Canberra Public Hospital. Additional hospital beds additional beds at the Canberra and Calvary Public Hospitals and the increase in outpatients services are also welcomed. 

The budget includes allocations for:
  • improved access to elective surgery for patients on the public elective surgery waiting list ($33m)
  • expanded emergency medicine at the Canberra Hospital and rapid assessment services at the Calvary Public Hospital ($12m)
  • increased neonatal, foetal and paediatric bed capacity of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children ($6m)
  • funding to meet growth in demand for outpatient services ($4.1m)
  • a new drug and alcohol outpatient service ($740,000)

The Walk in Centres are a great addition to our health system and will provide affordable, appropriate care to consumers. This budget allocates $951,000 for the design and construction of Walk in Centres at the Tuggeranong and Belconnen Health Centres.

Similarly the mobile dental clinic will make a difference to the lives of vulnerable members of our community. They have allocated $1.7 million for purchasing and equipping a mobile dental clinic to provide services to community members unable to travel. I feel especially pleased about this as this has been a long time coming.  The Older Women's Network and COTA have been advocating for this for 15 years.  Sadly, the Older Women's Network is no longer an incorporated association and so has not endured to see this become a reality. Still, it goes to show that the community has staying power!

Money is shared around the public health system. Many frustrated people will be pleased to hear that the car parking issues at Calvary Hospital are being addressed ($1.3m). And there is money to refurbish areas of Calvary Public Hospital to help them to stage and decant services to enable the refurbishment to bring the additional beds on-line.

Obesity is a public health issues for our community and it is pleasing to see that the Government is investment in a public obesity management service is significant ($3.6m) and appears to be linked to the Chronic Care Program that operates from Canberra Hospital.  

The Budget Papers are online.  Reading these documents tends to be a dark art. Budget Paper 2 is a useful and accessible document to provide an overview of the funding commitments  It is available online (pdf 3.4Mb).

The ACT Government has delivered a good budget for health in difficult times.

Working through the details is always the tricky bit. We will be doing this in the coming weeks and look forward to the Estimates process.

Darlene Cox
Executive Director

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