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$150 mln to cut elective surgery waiting lists by structural reform

03 June, 2008

The Rudd Government has announced a further $150 million to slash elective surgery waiting lists.

This funding builds upon the Government’s initial investment of $150 million for an immediate blitz on elective surgery waiting lists, announced earlier this year.

This new funding will deliver structural reform in the delivery of elective surgery, to ensure that there is lasting change in our hospitals. For example, this funding could be used to buy new, state-of-the-art surgical equipment and construct dedicated elective surgery units.

The allocation of this funding, and what it will be invested in, has now been agreed to between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories:

- NSW: $50.6 million for new equipment and surgical instruments to each Area Health Service and the Children's Hospital Westmead, and improved elective surgery management.
- Vic: $36.8 million to redevelop facilities at Royal Melbourne, Monash, Sunshine, Geelong and Frankston hospitals; purchase equipment; and provide innovation funding to improve elective surgery management.
- Qld: $29.4 million to expand elective surgery capacity and commission additional operating theatres.
- WA: $13.3 million for capital improvements to Albany and Osborne Park hospitals.
- SA: $8.1 million to develop operating theatres at a number of hospitals, and purchase equipment at a wide range of others.
- Tas: $3.1 million for equipment for Royal Hobart, Launceston and NW Regional hospitals.
- ACT: $6.6 million for capital works at Canberra and Calvary hospitals.
- NT: $2.1 million for capital works at Royal Darwin and Alice Springs hospitals.

In 2008, the Commonwealth is allocating a total of $300 million to slash waiting lists for elective surgery, including: $93.9m (NSW), $71m (Vic), $57m (Qld), $28.7m (WA), $21.7m (SA), $11.2m (Tas), $9.1m (ACT), $7.4m (NT).

This comes on top of the additional $1 billion the Rudd Government is delivering to public hospitals over the next year – to begin to rebuild the health system after eleven years of neglect.

This growth is the largest single-year increase in public hospital funding in almost a decade.

In 2005-06, more than 25,000 patients waited more than one year for elective surgery, like hip replacements and eye surgery. This is unacceptable.

The length of elective surgery waiting lists in our hospitals is a direct result of the previous Government’s refusal to work cooperatively with States and Territories to tackle problems in our health system.

The Rudd Government understands that elective surgery queues are not about lists and numbers – they are about people. The Government’s plan will give working families the health care they deserve.

The plan comes in three stages:

- Stage One (January 2008-December 2008) provides $150 million to conduct an immediate blitz on elective surgery waiting lists and reduce the backlog of people waiting longer than clinically recommended for elective surgery, such as hip replacements.
- Stage Two provides $150 million for equipment and capital upgrades as outlined above.
- Stage Three (2009-10 to 2010-11) will provide up to $300 million in dividend payments to reward improved performance by those states and territories that meet elective surgery waiting list reduction targets.

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