$57bn public hospital funding cuts 'must be reversed' in 2015 Budget

29 April, 2015

With discussion continuing on the more than $57 billion in hospital funding cuts, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has called on the Commonwealth Government to explain how the sector will be placed on a sustainable footing, as it continues to claim.

AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said the Council for the Australian Federation, chaired by Baird, would provide a good platform for the State and Territory Government leaders to collectively respond to the significant cuts to hospital funding in the 2014-15 Budget that were announced without any consultation.

"In the 2014 Budget, the Commonwealth Government backflipped on its pre-election commitment to 'a more transparent funding model' by unilaterally walking away from existing hospital funding commitments and retreating from activity-based funding models," Verhoeven said.

"To effectively plan and deliver the hospital services that Australians need, State and Territory Governments need certainty around current and future funding. Instead, we have seen $57 billion slashed from hospital funding between 2017-18 and 2024-25, leaving the states and territories to somehow pick up the pieces."

Verhoeven said it was time the Commonwealth Government accepted the lessons of the last 12 months of failed health policy, and restored funding certainty to the states and territories.

"The Commonwealth Government's cuts are already hurting patients and will impact on the long-term health of the Australian population," Verhoeven said. "Restoration of funding certainty will allow the states and territories to ensure the delivery of high quality public hospital services to meet the country's current and future needs.

"It is pleasing that Minister Ley has rejected a proposal from the leaked mental health review to cut $1 billion from acute care – a clear recognition that public hospital services are hurting.

"Doctors have spoken out today on the financial abyss into which hospitals have fallen. It's time the Commonwealth listened to state premiers, health ministers, and the public hospitals sector – and began a serious consultation process with us.

"The Commonwealth must step up to the challenge of providing national strategic leadership as the steward of Australia's health system, rather than implementing policy based on shifting budget problems from their ledger