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Doctors say health Budget is underwhelming

6 May 2014

The Napthine Government has failed to acknowledge doctors' pleas for substantial and widespread improvements to the state's health system.

"Surgery waiting lists continue to grow, ambulances are ramped, hospitals are on bypass, there are not enough hospital beds and today's Budget fails to adequately consider the increasing growth in demand," AMA Victoria President, Dr Stephen Parnis, said today.

In last year's budget, the Government increased health services funding by $675 million; comparatively, this year's increase is only $600 million. Demand for services is increasing year on year, and Government investment must keep pace.

"Since the Coalition was elected in 2010, elective surgery waiting lists have increased by 10,000, or approximately 20 per cent. The Budget allocation of $190 million for elective surgery is not nearly enough. AMA Victoria's recommendation of $420 million was a conservative estimate of required extra funding.

"The Government's "tough on crime" approach has failed to take into consideration the health needs of Victorian prisoners. 20 new prisoner mental health beds is grossly inadequate. Up to 80 per cent of prisoners have mental health problems and hepatitis rates are at epidemic levels. Without appropriately funding prisoners' health services, it is our view that the Government is denying treatment to a sector of our community for which they have complete responsibility," Dr Parnis said.

AMA Victoria welcomes improvements to rural healthcare, in particular the long overdue expansion of Latrobe Regional Hospital, $15 million for mental health crisis response services and $38 million for drug and alcohol treatments. However, this Budget has generally failed to increase Victorians' access to necessary health services.

"This Budget fails to address hospital capacity, fails to implement a real-time prescription drug monitoring system, fails to improve hospital violence, fails to allocate any new resources for training the rapidly expanding number of junior doctors, and fails to address smoking, obesity or alcohol misuse.," Dr Parnis said.

Media contact:
Felicity Ryan
0437 450 506

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