CANBERRA: The Australian government has agreed to extend its coronavirus health funding model until the end of 2022. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday chaired his first meeting of the national cabinet where he addressed health funding with state and territory leaders.
Following the meeting, he announced that the 50/50 split in hospital funding between the states and territories and the federal government, which was due to end in September, will continue until the end of the year.
The measure will cost the federal government an additional 760 million Australian dollars (about 533.9 million US dollars). Amid rising coronavirus cases and an influenza resurgence, state and territory leaders united to demand the agreement be extended.
Albanese said the funding would help get people out of emergency departments who do not need to be there.
"The decision that we made today to extend the funding is a recognition that there are currently about 3,000 people in hospital as a result of COVID-19. It is still having an impact," he told reporters.
"What it's about is a recognition that our hospital system at the moment has people who should be looked after by their local GP (General Practitioner), but GPs just unavailable."
The lack of nurses and health professionals in the aged care system means that many people who should be either looked after at home or looked after as aged care residents end up in the hospital system as well, putting further pressure on the system, he said. Australia on Friday reported more than 30,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 50 deaths.
According to the Department of Health data, there were 2,818 COVID-19 cases being treated in Australian hospitals on Thursday including 97 in intensive care. Friday's meeting also addressed skills shortages across the country, with leaders agreeing more needed to be done to fast-track visa applications for skilled workers.