What will the change of Government mean for health in NSW?

These are the headlines of what has been promised, according to the incoming Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s website.

• An extra 1,390 beds and 2,475 more nurses for the NSW health system. This includes 550 more beds and 275 more nurses over-and-above those currently promised by Labor at an additional cost of $340 million

• Increased funding for chronic disease management by $57 million to improve sufferers’ quality of life and drive down unnecessary hospital admissions.

• Establishment of a NSW Mental Health Commission, based on best practice models around the world, including the Western Australian Mental Health Commission.  It will also provide quarantined and accountable funding for mental health expenditure; and establish three specialist units within the Mental Health Commission to better manage the experience of mental health patients and carers, divert mental health patients away from the prison system, and help ensure a smooth operation of the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

• Development of a state-wide NSW Pain Management Plan to ease the burden of suffers of chronic pain, improve their quality of life and help them re-enter the workforce.  They will also maintain existing pain management and research programs across NSW.

• Establishment of an Office of Preventative Health.  Located in South West Sydney, the office will have a state-wide focus and be established in partnership with the University of Western Sydney.

• A NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will fix hospitals (a promise that will no doubt come back to bite!) by investing over $3 billion in health infrastructure over the next term of government. The $3 billion investment includes an injection of an additional $885 million to fast track hospital upgrades, redevelopments and other health infrastructure priorities over the next four years, as well as the existing health infrastructure projects in the State Budget.

• A NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will appoint Peter Wills AC to help develop a 10-Year Medical Research Strategic Plan for NSW.  They will also boost medical research in NSW by $20 million to drive innovation aimed at providing better patient care.

• A NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will commit $10 million to provide local health checks and improved management of chronic diseases is expected to dramatically improve the health of those at risk of, or who suffer from conditions such as diabetes, asthma, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

• A new Telehealth Technology Centre – devised and driven by doctors and their patients will be set up at Nepean Hospital under a Libnerals & Nationals Government in NSW.

• The NSW Liberals & Nationals have announced plans to increase funding for drug and alchol treatment – the first new money for respected bodies successfully treating addictions since the 1999 drug summit.

• The NSW Liberals & Nationals have released a policy outlining its intention to increase funding for the IPTAAS scheme by 50% – an extra $28million over four years.

• NSW Liberals & Nationals will deliver change to close the gap, an article Jillian wrote for the AMA’s medical journal.  It was published in NSW Doctor in May 2010.

• A speech Jillian gave to the Australian Industry Information Association in April on e-health

• The Coalition’s plans to reform the management of the public health system are outlined in a document called ‘Making it Work’ released in March 2009.

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Meanwhile, we shall wait to see the implications for national health reform. No doubt some senior health bureaucrats are also wondering about their jobs…

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