Millions cut from health grants:Feds should fund thru primary and preventive health through the Australia-wide ‘Medicare Local’ network.

The Newman government is shaving another $4.4 million off the annual Queensland Health grants program, arguing the federal government should boost support for preventive health programs.

It is the second round of cuts announced by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, who first examined the grants program in June and allowed some community grounds to continue to receive funding until September while further reviews were done.

The total annual funding for projects included in the latest review was $11,887,933, according to a statement issued by Mr Springborg this morning.

He said the 2012-13 savings from discontinued projects would total $3,359,632, while annual savings from 2013-14 onwards would be $4,412,875

Continuing projects were $7,182,606 a year, the statement said.

Mr Springborg said discontinued programs included those that were the domain of the federal government, were funded under the now-expired ‘Queensland Chronic Diseases Strategy’ or “did not support core clinical services”.

The groups that have lost funding under the latest review are expected to be revealed later today.

A spokesman for Mr Springborg said the details would be issued after affected groups received notice of the decisions.

Those letters were sent on Thursday, he said.

In June, a first round of funding cuts saw a range of groups lose part or all of their Queensland Health funding.

At the time, Family Planning Queensland learnt it would lose some of its funding, while Queensland Health also announced it would wind up grant funding to other groups that ran “healthy lifestyle” programs in various parts of the state, along with sponsorship of a mental health advocacy body.

In June, numerous indigenous health organisations appeared on a list of 59 projects that would have three months of extra funding, ahead of a more detailed review to determine their future funding.

It is understood Mr Springborg was keen to reduce duplication and encourage greater co-ordination among the various indigenous health groups.

In today’s statement, Mr Springborg said state grants to non-government health providers had been wound back as the state looked to the federal government for long-promised increases in support for primary and preventive health through the Australia-wide ‘Medicare Local’ network.

“Australia-wide, Medicare Locals are expected to support and embed prevention at different levels of the system as a core part of their work,” Mr Springborg said.

“The commonwealth requires they pursue ‘initiatives in general practice and primary health care designed to improve disease prevention and management and improve access to services’.

“Like other states, Queensland has changed to meet the reform agenda and that includes a greater commonwealth contribution to prevention measures and to allied health.

“Like the former divisions of general practice now engaged in Medicare Locals, we are still waiting for the federal government to honour its side of the bargain.”

Mr Springborg said Medicare Locals were to be accountable to the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, formed to drive change and innovation around preventive health policies and programs including plans for mass media campaigns.

“Under National Health Reform, Queensland Health would continue to provide supplementary enabling functions such as health and medical research co-ordination, public health epidemiology and public health data management led by the Chief Health Officer,” the statement said.

“A reduced number of preventive health programs provided by the state would retain a significant impact as Medicare Locals began to fulfil their prescribed function.”

Mr Springborg said the second round of reductions to the grants program would apply from the end of this month.

He said this included the “specific consideration” of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs “to eliminate duplication and rationalise services between providers”.

Despite the funding cuts, Mr Springborg said a “wide cross-section of grants” reviewed since June 30 would continue through the coming financial year.

One comment on “Millions cut from health grants:Feds should fund thru primary and preventive health through the Australia-wide ‘Medicare Local’ network.

  1. Press release Health Minister Tanya Plibersek

    Newman gives bizarre excuse for cutting health grants

    Health Minister Tanya Plibersek today said she was extremely concerned about the Newman Government’s latest cuts – this time $4.4 million per year in health care grants.

    Ms Plibersek added the excuse for making the cuts given by Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg was a bizarre attempt to try and shift responsibility.
    “As Australian Government funding increases, Queensland should at least maintain state funding,” said Ms Plibersek.

    “It’s not fair to the people of Queensland that the Queensland Government is using increased Commonwealth funding as a weak excuse to cut state health funding.”
    “Mr Springborg is not telling the people of Queensland that the Commonwealth has doubled the level of primary health care funding it gives to Medicare Locals.”
    “So the announcement today is just a cynical attempt by Campbell Newman and Lawrence Springborg to try and spin their way out of yet another round of funding cuts to health.”

    Ms Plibersek said she was extremely concerned about what these cuts could mean to the provision of preventative health and other programs being cut today.
    “It appears that the Newman Government is simply washing its hands of the services previously provided by these non-government grant recipients.”
    She said the decision by Queensland Health to stop awarding grants to non-government health care providers was being made solely by the Newman Government without consultation with relevant stakeholders such as the Commonwealth Government or relevant Medicare Locals.
    “Campbell Newman has had a hit list of organisations he was going to defund since June. To now say these cuts are somehow connected to the Commonwealth is bizarre and just wrong.”
    The Gillard Government is investing around $171 million per year for the operation of Medicare Locals, which is more than double the approximately $85 million that was invested annually in the Divisions of General Practice Program – the organisations that have been replaced by Medicare Locals.
    In Queensland, this equates to approximately an additional $10.3 million investment in 11 Medicare Locals.
    Under the national health reform, states and territories committed to at least maintaining the funding allocations, not use the Commonwealth’s increased investment as an excuse to reduce their own