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Question about Health Staff Funding, February 2021

Question without Notice to the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services

February 25, 2021

Amy MacMahon:

My question is to the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services. The Auditor-General’s report on hospital and health services released this month tells us that they are struggling to deliver their efficiency and productivity dividends. Will the government commit to funding the 9,000 additional frontline health staff announced in the 2020 budget without requiring the $1 billion in efficiency and productivity dividends to be met?

Yvette D’Ath:

I thank the member for her question. I thank her for her interest in the hospital and health services. As the member would have heard from my previous answer, the Palaszczuk government has invested record funding since we came back into government in 2015. We rebuilt the health system so that we had the workforce to manage a global health pandemic. We would not be in the fortunate position we are in if it was not for that. We know that it has been a very difficult 12 months for our hospital and health services in relation to the pressures placed upon them. There has been additional funding contributed by the COVID budget to support them through the pressures that they have faced with the deferral of elective surgeries and with delay in leave being taken by staff. We know this has added to their pressures. We also know that the budget is under stress due to COVID and what it has done to the state, national and global economy. 

We know that we have to make savings and we have to make tough decisions across the whole of government. Every single agency is doing its fair share of finding savings, but let us be clear: we are not compromising the health care that we are providing to every Queenslander who walks into that emergency department, who arrives by ambulance or who needs surgery. We are not compromising the frontline care that we are giving and we are not in any way impacting on the people whose absolute top priority is getting emergency care. They are our No. 1 priority. Sometimes that means making tough decisions, as every state did by suspending certain categories of surgeries during COVID. We all had to make those tough decisions. I thank the doctors, nurses and health workers because they have done a remarkable job in picking up that backlog of elective surgery. What they have done has been incredible. 

We all have to do our fair share. That includes in education, child safety, police, justice, roads and transport. We all have to find savings. Those opposite talk about not borrowing more money, they talk about debt, they talk about cutting revenue so we have less money coming in to go to hospitals, schools or roads, and also they say we should not be seeking savings across government. It is scary to think what the budget would have looked like if the opposition had gotten in. The question is very important. We will continue to make sure the best quality health care is being delivered to every Queenslander.

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