The federal budget came down in October 2020 and, as would be expected in a pandemic year, was health figured prominently. What did the Federal Health Budget 20-21 mean for health professionals?
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt declared it a record, with $115.5 billion allocated for 2020-21, an increase of over 10% on the previous year. A whopping $467 billion has been allocated over the forward estimates (ie. the three years beyond the current budget.)
What does this mean for health professionals or anyone looking for a GP or healthcare role? We’ve broken down the main components of the federal health budget 20-21 and simplified what it could mean for you.
COVID, COVID, COVID
Funds for the COVID-19 pandemic were, of course, front and centre. Just over 10% of the entire budget was allocated to the emergency health response. And given mini outbreaks in both Melbourne and Sydney in the closing weeks of 2020, this amount might be increased further. $2.3 billion was also invested in COVID-10 treatments and vaccines.
As has been mentioned often, the pandemic is believed to have had an adverse reaction on the mental health of some Australians. The government has responded to this in allocating $5.7 billion to mental health. One crucial aspect of this allocation was an additional $100 million to double support of “Better Access.” This means eligible Australians now have access to 20 Medicare-funded psychological visits in 2021.
The funding also included:
- The largest expansion to date of the headspace network
- The introduction of a new Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Line
- Funding to extend and evaluate the national suicide prevention trials
- Additional funding for the “Prevention Hub”, a collaboration between the Black Dog Institute and Everymind.
Medicare & Telehealth
Telehealth became imperative for primary care during the darker days of the pandemic, evidenced in the government’s addition of it to the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
As of September 2020, more than 32.8 million telehealth services had been delivered and, with an uncertain future ahead, the government extended this medicare billable service for another six months.
Even better, it added it permanently to the schedule in November.
As a country that built its wealth partially “on the sheep’s back”, caring for today’s still hugely important rural population is imperative.
In terms of rural health, encouraging health professionals to take up residence in rural and remote communities has been challenging. With this in mind, the federal health budget 20-21 included the implementation of the $550 million “Stronger Rural Health Strategy”. The main purpose of this is to offer GPs, nurses and allied health professionals more training and practise opportunities in rural and remote Australia.
(If you are thinking of working in a rural or remote area, contact us and we can help!)
Amongst many other issues, the health of our senior citizens was brought sharply into light during 2020 as many nursing homes experienced a range of challenges due to the pandemic. Key failings of this period were clearly identified in the Aged Care Royal Commission report on COVID-19.
Acknowledging this, the Federal Health Budget allocated $408.5 million to improve the care and quality of the aged care system. This includes:
- More home care packages
- Additional funds allocated for surge workforce and increased training for aged care workers
- The Aged Care Workforce Retention Bonus Payment was extended
- The COVID-19 supplement to all Commonwealth-funded aged care provided was extended
Summary of the Federal Health Budget 20-21
In summary, the healthcare sector has been boosted significantly by the Federal budget, meaning better support for healthcare professionals and outcomes for the health of Australians.
It also potentially means more work opportunities for GPS, nurses and other healthcare professionals. And that is where we are always ready to help you as a candidate or business to ensure the best talent ends up in the right jobs.
Reach out to us today if you need assistance to secure your next healthcare job.