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Labor promises boost to public hospital funding

If elected, the Labor Party will commit an additional $2.8 billion to fund Australia’s public hospitals, the party announced in its Budget reply.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the funding injection would put more beds in emergency departments and on wards to reduce the wait for people sitting in emergency rooms.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) said Labor’s Budget reply promise would restore public hospital funding to the formula agreed in the 2011 National Health Reform Agreement, with an overall envelope of $32.8 billion in funding through to 2025.

AHHA chief executive Alison Verhoeven said having a well-funded public hospital system is key to keeping out-of-pocket costs down, as is a well-funded primary health care sector.

“A healthy economy and a productive workforce depends on a strong health system, where every Australian can afford healthcare.

“Funding public hospitals to better meet need is an important commitment to our national infrastructure," Verhoeven said.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) acting federal secretary Annie Butler said the union had been extremely concerned that recent levels of public health funding have seen frontline nurses and midwives asked to do more and more with fewer and fewer health resources. “They are struggling with increasing workloads and are at risk of burn-out as the constant drain on resources affects the quality of care they can deliver.

“The ANMF has long-supported universal health care, believing that timely access to quality public healthcare is the right of every Australian, which is why we welcome the Opposition’s pledge to reverse the funding cuts to public hospitals which will help Australians to access care, when and where they need it.

“We maintain that a fair model of funding between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories is the best way to achieve this and ensure that consumers do not continue to bear an unfair proportion of their own healthcare costs," Butler said.

Both AHHA and the ANMF also welcomed Shorten’s announcement that Labor will provide new MRIs to 20 hospitals and imaging centres in the regions and outer suburbs.

Butler said ANMF members welcome the commitment to return resources to assist nurses and midwives deliver quality, timely care to people who need it the most.

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