Ending The Blame Game: Reforming The Health And Hospital System

The Australian Government is delivering immediate improvements in health care – including an extra $1 billion in public hospitals, up to $600 million in slashing elective surgery waiting lists, and delivering up to 8,750 additional nurses back into the workforce – while making plans for the long-term future of the health system.

Page last updated: 13 May 2008

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13 May 2008

To ensure working families get the health care they deserve the Rudd Labor Government is delivering immediate improvements and making plans for the long-term future of the health system.

For too long, the blame game has hurt the health system – and hurt patients. This Budget heralds a new era of cooperation, collaboration and honest, open dialogue between the Australian Government and the States and Territories on health.

The Government is delivering immediate benefits in acute care, by investing an extra $1 billion in public hospitals, up to $600 million in slashing elective surgery waiting lists, and delivering up to 8,750 additional nurses back into the workforce.

The Government is also determined to take pressure off our hospitals by investing in primary care – keeping people well and out of hospital. At present, there are 500,000 preventable hospital admissions each year, including 50,000 for dental conditions. That’s why we are investing in primary and preventative care, including GP Super Clinics, as well as better dental care.

We have also established a National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, to develop a long-term plan for tackling current and future challenges in the Australian health system, as well as a National Advisory Council on Mental Health.

  • Australian Health Care Agreements 2008-09
The current Australian Health Care Agreements (AHCAs) will be extended for 12 months with an extra $1 billion provided to public hospitals. This additional $1 billion reverses the trend of decline in the Commonwealth’s share of public hospital funding.

In recognition of the fact that primary care and acute care are intertwined, the new AHCAs will for the first time expand their focus beyond public hospitals to include primary and preventative care, as well as aged care.
  • Elective Surgery Waiting List Reduction Plan
The Government is providing up to $600 million over four years to the States and Territories, starting in 2007-08 to reduce elective surgery waiting lists.

In 2005-06, 19 per cent of public patients requiring elective surgery were not seen within the recommended time. By the end of 2008, around 25,000 patients will have benefited from the elective surgery plan.

The plan comes in three stages: Delivering an immediate blitz on elective surgery waiting lists; structural reforms to improve elective surgery performance; and dividend payments that are conditional upon States and Territories meeting elective surgery waiting list reduction targets.
  • Health Workforce – Supporting Nurses Back into the Workforce
The Government will spend $138.9 million over five years across the Health and Ageing and Education Portfolios to encourage up to 8,750 qualified nurses to return to the workforce and to create 90 new Commonwealth supported places in nursing in the second semester of 2008, with a further 1,170 places in 2009. This program responds to the acute nursing shortages in many parts of the hospital system, both private and public, as well as in aged care residential homes.

The program will provide cash bonuses of up to $6,000 to eligible nurses and midwives who return to work in either a public or private hospital or aged care home that is participating in the program.

In addition, $1,000 per re-entering nurse or midwife will be provided to the employing hospital and/or aged care home to assist with the cost of re-training and re-skilling the nurse or midwife.
  • Better outcomes for hospitals and community health
The Government is providing $389.5 million in grants, capital and recurrent funding to a number of healthcare facilities and related organisations to improve patient treatment and care, ensuring organisations that need funding can get it when they need it. This includes a $100 million health cash injection to train doctors in Queensland, with around $60 million to support the cost of training 235 medical students at Griffith University and a $40 million contribution to help relocate Griffith University Medical School on to the site of the new Gold Coast Hospital.


Media inquiries only: Sean Kelly – 0417 108 362
For all other inquiries please contact the Minister's office – 02 6277 7220