Queensland Health avoids cuts, but $1bn savings plan stands
More than half a billion dollars in foreshadowed health cuts have been axed after a furious campaign by hospital boards.
Treasurer Cameron Dick has confirmed Queensland Health will not be subjected to a further "efficiency dividend", but would still need to make $1 billion in savings already slated last year.
The announcement, on the eve of Tuesday's state budget, follows red-hot anger from hospital boards that had refused to sign crucial service agreements and warned they would have to consider "draconian measures" and cut community services to make requested savings.
A spreadsheet detailing $550 million in proposed "efficiency and productivity measures" for the state's Hospital and Health Services (HHSs) was leaked and revealed in The Courier-Mail in May.
It showed under-pressure regions like the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Metro South, Metro North and West Moreton were being asked to make massive cuts during a ramping crisis and major demand pressures.
But Mr Dick said there would no efficiency dividend outside of the current Queensland Health funding model.
Asked if that meant the foreshadowed $550 million cut was gone, he said: "That's right."
"Queenslanders expect good quality frontline services and that's what the budget will lock in next week," he said.
But he said health services would still need to find savings to achieve its two per cent "productivity dividend" announced ahead of the election last year equalling $1 billion over four years.
Those savings are part of a wider $3 billion in savings across the entire public service in that time.
"So agencies, I can let you know, have made good progress on delivering our savings and debt plan targets of $750 million each year to 2023-24 … that's part of the savings and debt plan," Mr Dick said.
"So for 2021-22, Queensland Health's savings target will be addressed by the existing productivity dividend that is incorporated into the Queensland Health funding model.
"It means no further savings are required from Queensland Health in the budget, despite what the LNP have been bleating about for weeks."
Mr Dick said he had never seen the document projecting $550 million in cuts and such a decision had never been made.
"I don't know what that document was," he said.
"The first time I saw it was when it was tabled in the parliament, so when it was tabled we had not made any decisions about the health portfolio.
"You might not be surprised that it comes down to the wire in preparing budgets sometimes."
The Treasurer wouldn't be drawn on the total health budget spend, but described it as "a large number".
Neither would he be drawn on whether there would be extra funding for palliative care and mental health care following loud calls from both sectors that services were majorly underfunded.
Originally published as Qld Health avoids cuts, but $1bn savings target stands