Gillard Government Continues Record Ongoing Investment in Health

The 2013-14 Budget continues the Australian Government's record investment in the health of all Australians, increasing spending on frontline services, including public hospitals, cancer care and support, and mental health.

Page last updated: 19 February 2014

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14 May 2013

The 2013-14 Budget continues Labor’s record investment in the health of all Australians, increasing spending on frontline services, including public hospitals, cancer care and support, and mental health.

“Investment in our health and hospitals system is an investment in all Australians – in families, in our community and our economy,” Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, said.

The Government is providing unprecedented funding to public hospitals – $14.9 billion in 2013-14, $871 million more than in 2012-13 and $5 billion more than when Labor came to government.

Funding to enable the states and territories to run their hospitals has increased significantly since 2007, resulting in 7,000 extra doctors and 16,000 extra nurses being employed over this period.

“Since 2007, this Government has increased the number of doctors, specialists and nurses around the country so that patients can get services when and where they need them,” Minister Plibersek said.

Under the National Health Reform Agreement, the Commonwealth has guaranteed states and territories will receive at least $16.4 billion in additional funding for public hospital services over the next six years. From 2014-15, funding to state and territory hospital services will be uncapped and based on activity: the more people they care for, the more funding they will receive.

This is in addition to $3.4 billion of one off funding provided since 2010, including $1.8 billion for emergency department and elective surgery improvements and $1.6 billion for sub-acute beds provided under the National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospital Services. This funding has meant that, increasingly, Australians are spending less time waiting in emergency rooms as more hospitals reach specified targets.

In addition, more Australians than ever are getting elective surgery within recommended times.

In 2011-12, under the National Elective Surgery Target, 661,272 patients received their elective surgery, the highest reported volume of operations undertaken in Australia in a single year. With a target of 1,316, around 874 sub-acute beds have been delivered nationally, with a further 442 to be delivered by June 2014.

The Gillard Government is also investing a further $226.4 million in this Budget in a new cancer care package – World Leading Cancer Care – to support Australians whose lives are touched by cancer.

“This is on top of our $3.5 billion investment in cancer care and support, including $275.8 million for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, and we are bringing cancer services closer to where people live through 25 new Regional Cancer Centres,” Minister Plibersek said.

The Gillard Government has also provided an additional $4.1 billion over the past year which is funding sweeping dental health reforms.

“Our massive investment in dental reform will mean 5.2 million Australians will have access to desperately needed dental services,” Minister Plibersek said.

“And our ‘Grow Up Smiling’ initiative will deliver dental services for teenagers which will mean that, for future generations, it will be as easy to see a dentist as it is now to see a doctor.”

Mental health initiatives in this Budget total $61.2 million and build on the $2.2 billion package of mental health reforms contained in the 2011-12 Budget which are now being implemented.

Ongoing funding is driving major improvements in health around the nation.

The nation-building Health and Hospitals Fund, established in 2009, has helped to fund 224 projects, including 53 major hospital projects. There have been four funding rounds, with $5 billion allocated to approved projects across Australia.

The Budget also continues a rigorous approach to savings across the health and hospitals system.

“This has required, at times, some tough decisions, like the means testing of the private health insurance rebate,” Minister Plibersek said.

“However, this reform means that low and middle income Australians no longer subsidise the health insurance of higher income Australians.”

Since the introduction of means testing, more than 122,000 people have taken out private hospital cover.

“Coupled with new spending initiatives and ongoing reforms, these sorts of responsible savings mean that Australians – whether as patients or taxpayers – are getting more value for their health dollar than ever before.”

In addition, the Government’s investments in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) ensure that Australians have timely and affordable access to cost effective, high quality medicines at an affordable cost.

The Government has added more than 780 new medicines to the PBS, Life Saving Drugs Program and vaccines to the National Immunisation Program since 2007, at a cost of over $5 billion. In 2012-13, the Government has added 70 new medicines or extensions to listings on the PBS at a net cost of more than $780 million over five years.

As well, investment in the Medicare Benefits Schedule is forecast to reach a record $19 billion in 2013-14, giving more Australians than ever access to affordable health care.

In total, the Government will invest a total $79.2 billion in the health system in the 2013-14 Budget.

This year, there is a choice – between the Gillard Government’s record investment in health, or Tony Abbott’s plans to slash spending on basic services by cutting to the bone.

This Budget keeps our economy strong, makes the smart investments for our future and ensures every Australian gets a fair go and has access to a quality health system.

We are investing for the future, putting jobs and economic growth first and protecting the important services that Australians rely on.

For all media inquiries, please contact the Minister's Office on 02 6277 7220