Budget boost alone won’t solve Australia’s healthcare woes: Experts


While the latest Federal Budget boosted health and aged care spending by $9.7 billion, many experts feel that simply throwing more money at the problems won’t be enough to create a truly sustainable healthcare system for the future.

According to Dr Sonja Hall, Editor-in-Chief of the Australian Health Review journal, critical areas like primary care and rural/regional health are still facing immense pressures that increased funding alone won’t solve.

“We can’t solve these problems with just more of the same funding.,” says Dr Hall. “However, we can work towards a sustainable primary care system for all Australians by implementing targeted initiatives such as payment reform, improving equity in pay and conditions for the primary care workforce, and promoting increased collaboration between the federal and state governments.”

When it comes to rural and remote healthcare, long-term investment and reforms are desperately needed. While most Australians live in cities, those in regional and remote areas often have higher rates of disease, lower life expectancy, and have to travel further just to access basic medical care.

“Maximising the value of investments in regional and remote healthcare should be a priority. This could involve finding ways to provide cardiac rehabilitation services to people with heart disease in remote areas through improved models of care led by co-design or using under-utilised rural hospitals to reduce surgical waiting lists for certain outpatient surgeries,” says Dr Hall.

“This issue of the Australian Health Review also explores lessons learned from a health service merger, as discussed by Emeritus Professor Stephen Duckett AM.”

The latest Australian Health Review issue also examines a hospital merger case study in western Victoria, highlighting the importance of adequate resources, funding, expertise, communication and time for successful healthcare mergers.

Dr Hall emphasises the need to invest in the healthcare workforce itself, noting that “the Budget did deliver some valuable workforce programs such as the new Commonwealth Prac Payment, to help elevate ‘placement poverty’ in trainee nurses during practical placement.”

“Further research is needed to develop strong training foundations and to promote transformational leadership within our workforce, and ensure staff can provide care that is culturally safe.”

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