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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 13189

Townsville Health Service District

(Question No. 609)

Mr Katter asked the Minister for Health and Ageing, in writing, on 15 September 2011:

(1) Can she confirm media reports that the Townsville Health Service District, which services a smaller population than the Cairns Health District, receives 30 per cent more health funding.

(2) Is she aware that the population of the greater Cairns region is about 250 000, while that of the greater Townsville region is about 225 000.

(3) Can she explain to the people of far north Queensland, the reason for this apparent health funding discrepancy.

Ms Roxon: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) to (3) The funding for Health Districts in Queensland is a matter for the Queensland Government. Historically the Commonwealth has given funding to states and territories for public hospitals without transparency of where that funding is spent.

I note the Member's concerns and would advise him that the new financing and transparency initiatives introduced through national health reform aim to improve the distribution of public hospital funding.

A number of National Health Reform Agreement (NHRA) initiatives will ensure improved funding, and more transparent and locally responsive planning of health services. For example:

Growth Funding—The Commonwealth will increase its contribution to efficient growth funding for hospitals to 45 per cent from 1 July 2014, increasing to 50 per cent from 1 July 2017. Once this commences, the states/territories and the Commonwealth will share future funding growth in a 50/50 partnership. A guaranteed additional $16.4 billion will be provided by the Commonwealth for public hospital services under this new agreement up until 2019-20. This funding is on top of the level of funding that the Commonwealth would have otherwise provided.

Funding Transparency—All governments will contribute funding for hospitals into a single national funding pool which will be administered by a National Health Funding Pool Administrator. As a result there will be complete transparency, visibility and accountability of Commonwealth and state/territory government payments into the pool, then from the pool to LHNs.

Activity Based Funding—As part of the NHRA, agreement has been reached to establish a nationally consistent approach to activity based funding of public hospital services. Under the new funding arrangements, the Commonwealth will contribute towards the cost of each service delivered by hospitals, based on a national efficient price for services. An Independent Hospital Pricing Authority has already been established to get this important work underway. The Commonwealth will also provide block funding for small regional and rural hospitals, and to fund teaching, training and research undertaken in public hospitals.

Emergency Departments, Elective Surgery and Sub-acute Beds—All states and territories have signed a revised National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospital Services, under which the Commonwealth will provide them with up to $3.4 billion by 2016-17 for improved emergency departments, more elective surgery and new sub-acute beds.

Local Hospital Networks (LHNs)—Governance of the hospitals system will devolve to LHNs, which will be managed by Governing Councils that are comprised of members with skills and expertise in health, business and financial management, clinical expertise and research expertise. Governing Councils will engage with local clinicians and the local community to provide quality health care services to the community. A key role for LHNs will be undertaking local health planning, identifying gaps in services at the local level, examining opportunities for better targeting of services, and establishing formal and informal linkages with the primary care and aged care sectors.

The Commonwealth has negotiated these national reforms with the states and territories to ensure that the health system is put on a more financially sustainable footing, with an increasing share of public hospital costs being met by the Commonwealth into the future.