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Labor's plan for better hospitals and better care [policy document]



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Labor’s Plan for Better Hospitals and Better Care Mark Latham MP Federal Labor Leader

Julia Gillard MP Shadow Minister for Health

CAMPAIGN 2004

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Labor’s Plan for Better Hospitals and Better Care A Federal Labor Government will provide $998 million to save Australia’s public hospitals. Along with Labor’s $3.4 billion New Deal to Save Medicare,

this represents a massive Labor investment in health.

Labor will deliver affordable specialist care, ease the pressure on public hospitals (especially emergency departments), and train more doctors and nurses.

The Howard Government has never accepted its responsibility for the health care of all Australians. That is why it has consistently underfunded public health.

Under Labor, sick and injured Australians will have better access to the care they need. Labor will provide $414 million for affordable specialist care for all Australians.

Labor will provide $472 million for priority needs in public hospitals.

Labor will provide funds to help public hospital emergency departments to address waiting times for help and waiting times on trolleys.

Labor will provide funds to upgrade facilities, especially emergency departments. Hospitals will be able to purchase new diagnostic equipment and implement state-of-the art IT systems for improved quality and patient safety.

Medicare licenses for diagnostic imaging such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET (positron emission tomography) will be provided for machines in public hospitals, with a requirement that outpatient services be bulk billed.

Hospitals also need more doctors and nurses. Labor will provide $112 million to deliver many more university places for medical and nursing students as well as more specialist training places.

Labor’s Plan for Better Hospitals and Better Care will be delivered by a Federal Labor Government in partnership with the State and Territories. The principles for this partnership are set out in the Working Together for a Better

Australia agreement signed by Mark Latham and all the Premiers and Chief Ministers on 15 July 2004.

Affordable specialist care for all Australians

A Federal Labor Government will provide $414 million over the next 4 years to provide better and more affordable access to specialist services for all Australians. This includes $43.75 million for specialist care in regional, rural and remote Australia.

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$340 million for free specialist services through outpatient specialist clinics at public hospitals

Specialist outpatient clinics attached to public hospitals help people get timely access to specialist care, without expensive out-of-pocket costs.

Labor will provide $340 million, delivering around 2.4 million free services in the next 4 years.

These funds will cover the specialist services that are provided in these clinics by private doctors who do some sessional work in hospitals as well as salaried doctors who work in public hospitals.

A Federal Labor Government will work in partnership with the States and Territories to allocate these additional funds to the specialties and hospitals where they are most needed and to ensure that these services supplement those already provided.

It is anticipated that the conditions and funding for the provision of these services will be standardised nationally and incorporated into the Medicare Partnership Agreements between a Federal Labor Government and the States and Territories.

A Federal Labor Government will also negotiate with the States and Territories to reach a national agreement over the circumstances under which services in outpatient clinics can be billed to Medicare.

$30 million for new specialist training places for registrars at public hospitals

Labor will provide $30 million over the next 4 years to the States and Territories to fund 20 additional training places for registrars in public hospitals each year - a total of 80 new places.

A Federal Labor Government will work in partnership with the States and Territories and the specialist colleges to allocate these places to the specialities and hospitals where they are most needed.

This is an investment to address the current workforce shortage in some specialties. These registrars will help provide additional services in public hospitals during their training.

It is anticipated that the conditions and funding for the provision of these places will be standardised nationally and incorporated into the Medicare Partnership Agreements between a Federal Labor Government and the States and Territories.

$17.5 million more for the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program

Labor will bring more specialist services to rural and remote areas:

■ Increasing visiting specialist services in areas of identified need.

■ Improving linkages between visiting specialists and local health professionals, especially communication about patient care.

■ Building the skills of regional, rural and remote specialists and GPs.

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Labor will expand funding to cover the costs of delivering specialist services in regional, rural and remote Australia - such as travel, accommodation and consulting room hire costs - as well as expanding payments to visiting specialists who provide upskilling and/or professional support to local doctors.

This funding is in addition to the current funding for this program of $7 million per year.

$17.5 million more for Isolated and Interstate Patients Transport and Accommodation Services

Labor will increase funding to existing State and Territory programs which give financial assistance for travel and accommodation costs to patients and their families who are forced to travel to major cities or interstate for treatment.

Labor will work in partnership with the States and Territories to deliver better access to specialist services for regional, rural and remote Australia.

$8.75 million more for rural specialists’ training support

Labor will double the funds currently provided for specialist training in rural areas. This will help attract and retain specialists in rural areas, and will help rural hospitals improve their range of specialist services.

Labor will provide $7 million in additional funding to the Advanced Specialists Training Posts in Rural Areas program, which provides advanced trainee specialists with training placements in rural public hospitals. The additional funds will double the number of placements.

Labor will also provide $1.75 million in additional funding to the Rural Advanced Specialist Training Support Program. This program currently provides funding to six specialist colleges (anaesthetists, dermatologists, obstetricians and gynaecologists, physicians, psychiatrists and surgeons) for a range of projects to support advanced trainee specialists in rural Australia. These include mentoring projects and a variety of training activities using IT and satellite technologies.

More support for public hospitals

A Federal Labor Government will provide an additional $472 million over the next 4 years for more outpatient GP services and improved facilities and equipment at public hospitals - combined with the $128 million already announced as part of Labor’s Plan for Improved Access to Health and Medicare Services, this represents a $600 million investment.

Labor will work in partnership with State and Territory Governments to ensure that our public hospitals are well supported and able to address the day-to-day needs of the communities they serve.

$350 million for priority needs in public hospitals

Our hospitals need more support especially to relieve the pressure on emergency departments. Federal Labor’s additional $350 million will help

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hospitals address priorities such as:

■ Upgrading emergency departments.

■ Investing in better cancer treatment services (this will include $1.2 million a year to provide free breast prostheses to women who have mastectomies in public hospitals).

■ Making major new purchases of diagnostic equipment such as MRI machines and PET scanners.

■ Assisting with access block from emergency departments so people don’t get stuck on trolleys.

■ Implementing IT systems to improve quality and patient safety.

Labor will provide Medicare licences for new MRI machines and PET scanners in public hospitals, and in doing so will ensure that all outpatient services are bulk billed, to reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients.

An additional $122 million to provide more Medicare Teams and After Hours co-located clinics to ease the pressure on public hospital emergency departments

Labor has already committed $128 million to Improved Access to Health and Medicare Services. Labor will increase this funding by $122 million, bringing it to a total of $250 million over the next 4 years.

This additional funding will provide further support for more Medicare Teams and After Hours clinics, which will be co-located with public hospitals.

Labor will continue consultations with the States and Territories and the Divisions of General Practice about where these additional services are most needed and how they can best be utilised. For example, some of this funding could be used to provide mental health or geriatric health teams within emergency departments.

More doctors and nurses

To support our significant new investment in affordable specialist care and public hospitals, Labor will provide $112 million to train more doctors and nurses. Combined with the $419 million already committed for more doctors and nurses in Labor’s New Deal to Save Medicare, this represents a $531 million total investment.

$64 million for more medical places at universities

Labor will create 754 new commencing medical school places by 2007. These places are in addition to the 246 previously announced in Labor’s New Deal to Save Medicare. This will mean that by 2012 Australian medical schools will be graduating around 2,700 doctor a year, an increase of 1,000.

$25.7 million for more nursing places at universities

Labor will create 700 new full time and part time undergraduate places for nursing students by 2007. These places are in addition to those previously

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announced in Aim Higher. This will mean that by 2010 Australian nursing schools will be graduating around an extra 1,800 new nurses every year.

$18.7 million for extra specialist nursing places

Labor will provide 500 new full time post-graduate nursing HECS places by 2006. These places are in addition to those already committed in Aim Higher. This will mean that by 2007 there will be an extra 1,000 specialist nurses gradating every year.

$3.5 million for more scholarships to support medical students from rural and remote areas

A Federal Labor Government will boost the funding for the Rural Australia Medical Undergraduate Scholarships (RAMUS), enabling this program to provide up to 100 additional scholarships.

This program is currently funded at $8 million over 4 years. Scholarship holders receive $10,000 each year during the completion of a standard medical degree at their chosen university. Labor will increase funding to the RAMUS program by $3.5 million over the next 4 years.

Labor will also modify the current requirements for bonded university places

Labor will reduce the length of bonded service required by the acceptance of a bonded medical school place to be equivalent to the length of the medical degree. The bonding period may begin as soon as the intern year is finished, rather than at the conclusion of specialist training. All other provisions will remain as originally outlined.

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Labor’s Plan for Better Hospitals and Better Care is fully funded and costed

$ million 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 Total

Affordable specialist care for all Australians 49.3 108.5 121.5 134.5 413.8

Outpatient clinics at public hospitals 40 90 100 110 340

Additional training places 3 6 9 12 30

MSOAP funding 2.5 5 5 5 17.5

IPTAS funding 2.5 5 5 5 17.5

Additional training support for rural specialists 1.25 2.5 2.5 2.5 8.75

More support for public hospitals 105 144 170 181 600

Improved Access to Medicare* 23 33 36 36 128*

Priority needs for hospitals 60 80 100 110 350

Additional funding for co-located services at EDs 22 31 34 35 122

More doctors and nurses 34.2 118.9 166.8 211.3 531.2

Workforce provisions from Labor’s New Deal to Save Medicare* 32.2 101.3 128.7 156.9 419.1*

More medical places 1.5 8.2 20.7 34.0 64.4

More nursing places -- 4.4 8.0 11.0 23.5

Clinical nurse education -- 0.3 1.1 0.8 2.2

Post graduate nursing places -- 3.7 7.3 7.6 18.7

RAMUS scholarships 0.5 1 1 1 3.5

TOTAL 188.5 371.4 458.3 526.8 1545

Funding of new measures 133.3 237.1 293.6 333.9 998

* Previously announced measures

Printed and authorised by Tim Gartrell, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600