Thursday 28 April 2016
Victorian Health Budget
Despite a record tax increase of $3.7 billion since the 2014 election, Daniel Andrews has failed to properly invest that windfall gain in health and hospitals.
Daniel Andrews’ budget shows that state taxes have jumped by $3.7 billion or 20.7% in just two years.
Most notably absent from this budget are commitments to deliver the following Health priorities.
This budget has seen funding for Dental Health slashed by 15%. After acknowledging that “good oral health is the foundation for good overall health”, Jill Hennessy delivered a $37m budgeted cut to funding, which will see waiting times blow out and 31,000 less patients receiving dental care next year. (BP3 p234)
A projected tiny 0.3% increase in activity in our hospitals (WEIS) signals no growth in the provision of health services 2016-17- at a time when we know demand is increasing significantly due to an aging population and increasingly chronic conditions. (BP3 p219)
The paramedic pay rise, set to cost Victorian tax payers $54 million, has not been funded in either 2015/16 or beyond – why has this commitment has been left unfunded – or are ambulance services being secretly cut elsewhere? (BP3 p217 and p78)
This budget delivers nothing for core public health issues of smoking or obesity, despite the increasing costs to our health system and on the back of a cut to Healthy Together Victoria last year. (BP3 p79)
A centrepiece of Labor’s election campaign, the stalled Victorian Heart Hospital had no funding allocated in the budget, just an aggregated amount earmarked for the contingency fund. Promised to be complete in 2018, but now planned for mid-2020, there is also no news on other sources of funds to complete project. (BP3 p89 and p53). Similarly, the Aikenhead Centre election commitment is still not funded. While supposedly ‘shovel ready’, the Aikenhead Centre has only ever had money allocated to the ever growing contingency pool and project partners still have not been identified.
Casey Hospital redevelopment was similarly overlooked. Daniel Andrews promised to start construction in 2015 and complete it in 2018 Having previously delivered only $2.4m of a promised $106m, this budget appears to have left the rest of the funding in the contingency fund with an extended completion date of June 2020. (BP3 p51)
Northern Health requires over $100m to complete the redevelopment at Northern Hospital, including fitting out the ICU shell in the new building. With significant growth in demand and performance measures showing the strain on the staff and hospital, people in Melbourne’s North are being snubbed by the Andrews Government who have once again overlooked this Hospital.
No identifiable funding was delivered for the Health Complaints Commissioner or VARTA despite significant increases in their workload as a result of the Government’s legislation. Government modelling shows the Health Complaints Commissioner will see a 35% increase in the complaints received, requiring an additional $1 million annually and VARTA will need to sensitively manage a whole cohort of donor conceived people now able to access identifying information about their donor.
There is no ICT fund or plan in this budget, leaving many Victorian hospitals sadly lacking and unable to electronically manage vital areas of improved communication, such as the hospital-general practice ICT interface.
Despite the recent announcement that this government would combat bullying and harassment in the health sector with ‘anti-bullying flying squads’, this budget has not allocated any funding to actually deliver the experts or education identified in Labor’s program.
Daniel Andrews’ record taxing budget means he has an extra $3.7 billion in taxes and yet he was unable to find additional funding for these health initiatives. It is little wonder Victorians are losing confidence in Daniel Andrews’ ability to deliver on his promises in Health.