House debates

Monday, 15 June 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Health Care

2:49 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister please outline to the House how the Morrison government has maintained and improved the capacity of our health system throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic? And how has this work supported our hospitals and improved access to important medicines?

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the member for Higgins not just for her question but for her work more generally within the health system, particularly, along with the member for North Sydney, the member for Macarthur and others, on the allergies inquiry, which will make a big difference to the capacity of the health system going forwards.

In what has been the most intense period, our health system has performed extraordinarily well. It has been, I think, by all assessments the envy of the world in the way it has dealt with the coronavirus challenge, the way that the primary healthcare system has stood up and our doctors and our nurses, supported by telehealth, have dealt with coronavirus and the way that that system through our aged-care network has stood up. I'm advised today that there are now no cases remaining active in any aged-care facilities in Australia. Equally, the tribute rests with our hospitals, where our hospital workers, doctors, nurses, carers, cleaners and administrators have done an extraordinary job. We have expanded our capacity to 7,500 ventilators. At the moment the latest advice I have is that there are two Australians with COVID-19 on ventilation. What an outstanding job!

But, throughout the course of this, we have also had to plan and prepare for the long term and to expand that capacity still further. We have been able to strike a new national hospital reform agreement, with the support of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, to invest $131 billion in an agreement with every state and territory. We are going from what was a $100 billion agreement to $131 billion. But, much more importantly than that, we are investing specifically in new, high-cost therapies such as CAR T-cell therapy, lifesaving treatment for people with blood cancers who might not ever have that opportunity but for an agreement such as this.

At the same time, we are building the Hospital in the Home program to give people more flexibility to be with their loved ones during the course of treatment. This is an extraordinary national achievement, done in conjunction with states and territories. At the same time, we are delivering the new—seventh—community pharmacy agreement. This CPA expands by $1½ billion the amount of funding which is being delivered to our pharmacies for better medicines. There is a $1.2 million program for assisting with better medicines for our elderly, for Indigenous Australians and for those with chronic conditions. There's an expansion as part of that of $100 million. But, perhaps most pleasingly, there will be 800 new pharmacies in rural and regional Australia to support rural Australians and to support Indigenous Australians with better access to medicines. It is about saving lives, protecting lives and supporting— (Time expired)