$66.8m boost to state's health


THE health sector will receive a $66.8 million boost this financial year.

But the Department of Health and Human Services and Tasmanian Health Organisations will still need to make $40.7 million in savings this year, and $210 million over four years.

There were few budget surprises in health, with the Liberals ticking off their election commitments.

Money will start to flow this year for a feasibility study for a Launceston hospice, the return of the hospital at home program, an independent review of the mental health system, new suicide prevention strategies, additional nurse graduate placements and extra elective surgeries.

From 2016 the government will also provide $3 million over two years for a study into the health needs of Break O' Day and North-East Tasmania, which will inform the business case for a new hospital at St Helens.

Some of the $3 million will also go towards construction of the hospital.

Overall, the health budget will rise almost 5 per cent to $1.465 billion in 2014-15, roughly in line with annual health inflation. But federal budget cuts will see population health take a hit over forward estimates, losing 17 per cent of funding between this financial year and 2017-18.

The DHHS and three THOs have also been instructed to make savings of more than $200 million over four years, through changes including management restructure, the delivery of "workforce and operational efficiencies", the redesign of corporate back office functions, and the public sector wage pause.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson also said the government's health reform plan, including the previously announced THO merger due in July 2015, would deliver an estimated $21.5million in savings over the next four years.

The budget offered few details on the future of the Royal Hobart Hospital, with $50 million allocated to the $565 million project this year, despite it being on hold.


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