When Painaustralia representatives attended the Health Budget Lock up in a room filled with hundreds of health groups and all three responsible ministers presenting their portfolio aspects of the budget, we were presented with a mixed bag of spending and savings initiatives.
The government has championed its spending measures in the Health Budget as increases in Medicare funding ($4.8 billion); public hospital funding increase of $30 billion; investment of $2.4 billion in new medicines and funding of $5 billion for aged care.
However, there are four additional measures that will provide some impact in the pain area. They include:
a mental health funding of increase in the form of $338.1 million focussed on a range of measures such as suicide prevention ($1.2 million), crisis support ($33.8 million to Lifeline), outreach (beyondblue $37.6 million, Royal Flying Doctor Service $20.4 million), research ($125 million), psychological services in residential aged care for older Australians ($82.5 million) and in the community ($20 million);
investment of $6 billion for health and medical research;
a rural health strategy including more training for doctors and growth in multidisciplinary care and increased access to nursing and allied health services in the regions ($95.4 million); and
Indigenous health to receive $3.9 billion over four years.
While the word ‘pain’ is non-existent in the many statements in the Health Budget pack, it does specifically include $1 million for a program aimed to assist GPs and frontline health professionals to learn more about endometriosis to enable them to better diagnose and treat the condition.
The other major initiative in the Budget that will impact on people living with pain but does not specifically address the condition is a sport and physical activity initiative worth $230 million.
For the detail of these measures, see the health portfolio Budget papers here.