Health care cost alarm bell

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg (centre) with chemotherapy patient Shirley Carlile, and Member for Noosa Glen Elmes at Noosa Hospital.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg (centre) with chemotherapy patient Shirley Carlile, and Member for Noosa Glen Elmes at Noosa Hospital. GEOFF POTTER

NOOSA may be one of the keys to helping cure the ravenous fiscal beast that is the state health budget, according to Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.

Mr Springborg revealed during a visit to the Noosaville hospital that at the current rate of spending increases, the entire state budget would be devoted to the health sector by 2030.

"We've got a lot of dilemmas facing Queensland Health, but no one wants us to keep on doing the same old thing we've been doing for years and years and years - just throwing money at things and going over budget," the minister said during last Tuesday's Noosa tour with local MP Glen Elmes, the hospital board and chief executive.

"It's an interesting statistic," Mr Springborg said.

"If we keep spending on Queensland Health at the rate we're going, by 2030 Queensland Health will consume the entire state budget. Every single bit of it, every single last cent ... it's unsustainable.

"The private sector gives us a really good insight into how we should be looking at running health care as well, because they're very, very efficient and this is where these partnerships are really good," Mr Springborg said.

He said that the Noosa Hospital - that is the public and private hospital run by not-for-profit

group Ramsay Health Care, "absolutely" was a key to delivering a better healthcare bang for each buck.

"I see these public/private partnerships as being very, very important to deliver efficient health services in local communities and this is a classic example of it," Mr Springborg said.

"I wish money grew on trees. We've had to deal with the health payroll debacle, a $150 million hole is blown in this year's budget, which is an enormous hole.

"What we're saying now is that all of our health services will have an increase in budget, including the Sunshine Coast, but what we're saying is that the days of budget over-runs are over."

The minister said the Coast's hospitals will get their money and then hospital boards will have to "cut the cloth to suit" by way of provision of health services.

"Mr and Mrs Sunshine Coast Average, they have to run within a budget, every small businessman has to run within a budget, this hospital's got to run within a budget, Queensland Health's got to run within a budget.

"The Noosa board will get a budget, it will be up to them how they apply services. On the Coast here they might decide to buy more services from the not-for-profit or private sector that will be a matter for them."

Noosa Hospital CEO Oliver Steele said the visit was a great opportunity to talk about Ramsay's desire to secure a 10 to 15-year health service contract extension on the existing arrangement.

"The health minister understands we're keen to get a longer lease for the long-term future of Ramsay Health Care," Mr Steele said.

Mr Steele said demands on the Noosa emergency department were growing at 10% annually and Ramsay needed future security to plan ahead.

Topics:  budget, health costs, lawrence springborg, noosa, politics



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