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Extra $23 million under new hospital deal with States

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Dr Carmen Lawrence Minister for Human Services and Health Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women


CL37/96 ' 31/1/96


Queensland and the other States will receive extra Commonwealth funds to improve public hospital services and cut waiting lists under renegotiated Medicare Agreements announced today.

The Federal Minister for Human Services and Health, Carmen Lawrence said the arrangements secured by the Commonwealth Government would link funding to performance in four key areas of public hospital services.

Speaking at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane this afternoon, Dr. Lawrence said these include public in and out-patient activity and waiting times for both elective surgery and accident and emergency.

"This is a significant advance by both Commonwealth and State Governments to ensure that Australians have equal access to high quality public hospital care," Dr Lawrence said.

"Unfortunately, Tasmania is the only State which has not taken advantage of the offer, and this jeopardises it's access to $2.7 million under the new arrangements." .

Dr Lawrence said the Commonwealth had significantly increased its contribution to the public hospital system.

"The new arrangements will provide more flexibility and certainty of funding for the States and Territories, however, they will also ensure that States are no longer able to make the sort of crippling hospital budget cuts that we have seen

in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

"In the last two years, the Brown, Kennett and Court Governments have slashed funding by $30 million, $275 million < and $98 million respectively from their State's hospitals."

Under the new arrangements, the Commonwealth will contribute an additional $23 million nationally over the life of the current Agreement to assist with improved access to the public hospital system.

"In 1995-96, $4.7 billion will be paid to the States and Territories under the Medicare Agreements, including about $864.9 million for Queensland," Dr Lawrence said.

"Queensland will receive bonus pool funding of $20.9 million under the new arrangements. NSW will receive $100.6 million, Victoria will receive $70.6 million, the ACT will receive $6.3 million, the Northern Territory will receive $0.7 million,

South Australia will receive $13.0 million and Western Australia will receive $17.9 million. 44 3i)

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"In return, the States have committed to the achievement of targets in four key areas of patient care is a major advance in ensuring that the focus of effort is on patient care, not on financial gain such as cost shifting" Dr Lawrence said.

"I urge Tasmania to follow Queensland's lead and sign up to the arrangements in the interest of their public patients." The new Agreements stem from undertakings achieved at the last Health Ministers'meeting in Alice Springs. The Federal

Government will announce further hospital initiatives in a health policy statement during the course of the Federal Election Campaign.

Dr Lawrence made today's hospital funding announcement at the official opening of the new Magnetic Resonance Imaging Unit (MRI) at Princess Alexandra Hospital. MRI is a high tech

diagnostic imaging technique for neurology patients.

"The new Unit is a joint Commonwealth/State project to which the Federal Government has contributed $1.9 million," Dr Lawrence said.

"The Unit is one of three public MRI Units in Queensland and one of 18 Australia wide."

The Queensland Minister for Health, ' Peter Beattie, said the new Unit was a major boost to health services for the people of South East Queensland.

"This new MRI equipment is much faster 'and produces images of greater clarity than the system it replaces," Mr Beattie said. • '· ϋ .

"It makes the very latest technology freely available to all Queenslanders."

Dr Lawrence said the new Unit was testament to could be achieved when Commonwealth and State Governments work together.

"Like the new Hospital Agreement, this Unit shows what can be done when both the Commonwealth and State Governments are genuinely committed to high quality and accessible public health care."

Contact: Brenda Conroy 0412 414 781