NSW Budget delivers $35.1bn in health funding

Wednesday, 19 June, 2024

NSW Budget delivers $35.1bn in health funding

The NSW Government has announced $35.1 billion in health funding across the state as a part of the NSW Budget 2024–25.

The funding aims to build a better health system to meet the growing needs of the community by: relieving pressure on our emergency departments (EDs); investing in frontline health workers; delivering hospital infrastructure; supporting primary health care through GP practices; and improving access to care for families.

Alleviating pressure on EDs

The NSW Budget will invest around half a billion dollars to reduce pressure on EDs, including:

  • $171.4 million to establish a ‘Single Front Door’ — a single point of advice, assessment, triage and referral for people in NSW with urgent non-life threatening conditions, backed with the introduction of three additional virtual care services.
  • $100 million to back in urgent care services, a key instrument of the health system that will provide a pathway to care outside of hospitals for an estimated 114,000 patients.
  • $70.1 million to expand ED short stay units to improve patient flow and reduce ED wait times by nearly 80,000 hours.
  • $15.1 million for an Ambulance Matrix that enables paramedics to transport patients to emergency departments with greater capacity and reduces wait times by providing real-time hospital data.
  • $31.4 million to increase Hospital in the Home across the state allowing over 3500 additional patients each year to be cared for in their home rather than a hospital bed.
  • $53.9 million to improve patient flow and support discharge planning by identifying patients early on that are suitable to be discharged home with the appropriate supports in place.

Bulk-billing support

The NSW Government will invest around $188.8 million as part of the Bulk-Billing Support Initiative to ensure that primary health care services remain accessible to families and households.

The initiative will legislate to provide a new ongoing payroll tax rebate for contractor GPs at clinics that meet bulk-billing thresholds and waiver for past unpaid payroll tax liability for contractor GP wages to 4 September 2024; and will protect bulk-billing rates by reducing financial pressures on GP practices so they don’t pass on additional costs to patients and will save clinics from closure.

“This will protect the cost of seeing a GP for families and households, reduce the strain on emergency departments and save hundreds of clinics from closure,” said the NSW Government in statement.

For the last five years, medical peak bodies have been warning that failure to address the issue could see GPs charge patients as much as an additional $20 per appointment, the statement said.

“This resolves uncertainty around the applicability of payroll tax on contractor GPs, which first arose in 2018 under the previous Liberal-National state government.”

AMA’s Dr Michael Bonning said, “AMA NSW welcomes the decision by the NSW Minns government to legislate to guarantee no retrospective payroll tax liability for general practice. The Minns government will be the first state to offer this guarantee in legislation.

“Legislating ‘no retrospectivity’ will provide certainty for practices and will minimise the risk of more closures of general practices in NSW.

“Unfortunately, general practice continues to struggle with decades of underfunding from the previous Commonwealth Government.”

RACGP NSW & ACT Chair Dr Rebekah Hoffman said, “The tax arrangements going forward will reduce future liabilities and will go a long way to ensuring NSW practices remain viable and open for patients, and those that are bulk-billing may continue.”

Investing in health workers

The 2024–25 NSW Budget will deliver more frontline health workers to communities that need them most, including:

  • $274.7 million to boost staffing at newly built and upgraded hospitals across the state as part of the Essential Health Services Fund. This will enable an additional 250 healthcare workers across the state including at Prince of Wales Hospital, Tweed Hospital, Bowral, Sutherland, Wentworth, Cowra, Cooma, Glen Innes and Griffith.
  • $200.1 million to deliver accommodation to house health workers in regional NSW to better enable recruitment and retention of essential health workers right across the state.

This investment is aimed at building an engaged, capable and supported workforce through:

  • safe staffing levels; making 1112 temporary nurses permanent; delivering an extra 500 regional paramedics
  • abolishing the wages cap and delivering the highest wage increases for health workers in over a decade
  • introducing health worker study subsidies
  • doubling rural health incentives
  • boosting doctors in regional GP surgeries as well as hospitals through the single employer model.

Delivering hospital infrastructure

The Budget will invest $3.4 billion in 2024–25 to upgrade hospitals and health facilities across the state. Additional funding under the NSW Government’s Building Better Health initiative will support the delivery of upgraded hospitals and health facilities, including:

  • $395.3 million of additional funding to deliver ongoing hospital redevelopments at Eurobodalla, Ryde, Temora, Liverpool, Integrated Mental Health Complex at Westmead, Moree, Nepean, Cessnock and Shellharbour Hospital.
  • An investment of $265.0 million in a critical Port Macquarie Hospital upgrade.
  • Continued investment in the Lower Mid North Coast (Manning and Forster-Tuncurry).
  • $250 million for a Critical Asset Maintenance Program for much-needed maintenance across hospitals and health facilities state-wide.

Improving access to care

The Budget will invest $130.9 million to improve access to healthcare services that families need through our Family Start Package, including:

  • $52.2 million to help low- and middle-income families undergoing fertility treatment by extending the fertility treatment rebate
  • $40.0 million to enhance essential services for vulnerable children with specific investments in rural and regional allied health, juvenile arthritis and Karitane and Tresillian services.

Image credit: iStock.com/marchmeena29

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