6 June 2006

ACT Budget 06: health

| Kerces
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Apart from education, the other area being touted as the government’s big spender of the year is health. Health Minister Katy Gallagher said the total funds allocated for health services is $752 million.

A major part of this is $32 million spread over four years to enable health services to meet growing demand. This money includes 20 extra intensive care unit beds and associated staff plus some more critical care beds; more staff for the Capital Region Cancer services; more specialist mental health providers and more support for community based health services. There are also funds allocated for the purchase of new linear accelerator machines for the Canberra Hospital oncology unit (I did wonder if this was that machine that broke down earlier in the year much to Simon Corbell’s surprise).

The $8.15 million allocated to improving mental health services will be split up into $5 million over four years to create a mixture of new long and short term youth accommodation and day care support for young people with mental illnesses. The other $3.15 million will be used to promote mental health and the benefits of prevention and early intervention.

Ms Gallagher said the aim of the funds for community based health services is to help people, particularly the aged and those with chronic illnesses, to be able to stay at home and not have to come to hospital (thereby also reducing the load on hospitals). This will be carried out in partnership with health professionals.

Additional funds have been allocated to decrease waiting lists for elective surgery. I did wonder how throwing money around would help this (and I wasn’t alone either), but Ms Gallagher insists the funding will mean an extra 350 elective procedures will take place each year.

Another aim of some of the health funding is to reduce the number of young people with disabilities who are living in aged care homes. Also I was glad to note we will not be dying of bird flu any time soon with $416,000 allocated each year for four years to maintain and upgrade our supply of Tamiflu.

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