Published: 13 February 2020

THE government has confirmed an additional investment of $600 million into health over the next four years is on top of an election commitment of $757 in additional expenditure.

Premier Peter Gutwein on Tuesday announced the top-up to the health budget at the release of the Revised Estimates Report.

The Liberals on the 2018 state election campaign announced it would increase health expenditure by $757 million over six years.

Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson said the government underfunded health each year at budget time, only to later provide a mid-year funding injection.

He said he was unable to determine whether this money was new money or part of the Liberals' election commitment to increased health spending.

Mr Gutwein said the $600 million over four years was in addition to the government's election commitment.

He said the government had provided additional investment in health at a rate of 7 per cent over the past five years.

He said more than 900 more staff had been employed within the health system over the past two and a half years.

"The vast majority of that money will go into salaries to pay for those elevated levels of staff," Mr Gutwein said.

"In terms of health, we fund it on the basis of providing a level of services that are planned over the coming year but demand usually changes."

Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest said the government's additional funding injection was only $56 million above what was spent in 2019.

She said the government typically spent around $100 million more on health than it budgeted for each year.

"Notionally, this money has already been spent so they will need to provide a little more," Ms Forrest said.

"It's time to have a discussion with the federal government about proper funding in health.

"It's the state's responsibility but the Commonwealth has a role to play."

Australian Medical Association state president John Burgess said it was hoped the money was not just about plugging holes in the health system.

"We hope that this funding injection will provide much-needed relief for hospital budgets that should enable more hospital beds to be opened, doctors employed, and equipment purchased," he said.

"It should also help to build morale in what has been a crisis-driven system for too long."


The Advocate Thursday 13 February, 2020

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