Getting in early for 2013/14

Advocacy groups are now starting to set their sights on the 2013/14 state and federal government budgets. One of the first to launch a pre-budget campaign is Alzheimer’s Australia NSW.

By Yasmin Noone

Budget season is not far around the corner, with various sector bodies now submitting their funding wish-lists before any state, territory or federal government decisions are made about what’s to be included in the 2013/14 financial plans and what’s not.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW is one of the first organisations in the sector off the rank to launch a 2013/14 budget campaign and put the pressure on, having just issued a call on the state government to fully fund the Implementation Plan for the NSW Dementia Services Framework, 2010-2015, next year.

The plan’s draft, released in September last year, was developed by the State Government’s Dementia Policy Team and launched by the NSW Government.

According to the CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, John Watkins, the draft plan was an excellent document that was leading the way globally.

But, the state government has failed to act on the plan or implement any part of it since its 2011 release.

“This plan is a comprehensive approach to dealing with dementia that includes awareness, diagnosis, management and support of people with dementia and their carers in the home, hospital and residential aged care, right through to palliative care,” Mr Watkins said.

“It is an excellent, well-researched and laid-out plan that compares very favourably with dementia plans internationally and could be argued to be a world-leading plan in this area.

“The NSW Government should be congratulated for seeing the need for such work to be done. But now the plan needs to be implemented and the 2013-14 NSW Budget is an excellent opportunity to start to do this.”

The document sets the direction for improving quality of life for people with dementia, carers and families in NSW.

The plan outlines suggested actions by NSW Health and Ageing, Disability and Home Care at both state and local levels, and in partnership with key agencies such as the Agency for Clinical Innovation (one of the four ‘pillars of health reform’ in NSW).

The paper proposes reporting against the implementation plan, using a number of proposed priority areas for the improvement of dementia care in NSW and reporting targets against which to measure the implementation progress.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW’s pre-budget submission, released today, also highlights five priorities which the 2013-14 NSW Budget should seek to address which total $60 million per annum.

These include $15 million per annum to fund Healthy Ageing programs to contribute to dementia risk reduction; $8 million per annum to support Local Health Districts to deliver improved dementia care; $4 million per annum for engagement with primary health care and Medicare Locals by Local Health Districts to improve care coordination for people with dementia; $9 million per annum to implement initiatives to support improved clinical practice in hospitals and community health services to benefit people with dementia; and $24 million per annum to fund community based services for people with dementia living in their own home or residential aged care to prevent and decrease hospital admission rates.

“Dementia is an issue that is only going to grow as the population ages,” Mr Watkins said.

“Already, there are more than 100,000 people living with dementia in NSW, which is expected to grow by a staggering 30 per cent to 132,000 by 2020 – that’s just eight years away.

“We already have a good plan that can help us deal appropriately with this issue. Now is the time to implement that plan.”

More 2013/14 budget requests

The national Alzheimer’s Australia body has also been campaigning for a federal government commitment to a five-year research funding plan, starting at the turn of the 2013/14 financial year.

It seeks an extra $200 million over five years to bring the total government investment in dementia research through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC; the major source of public funding for research) to around $60 million per year.

This figure is said to be equivalent to one per cent of the $6 billion direct cost of dementia care.

A new NSW-based campaign targeting the 2013/14 budget was also recently launched by a group of ‘citizen’ campaigners seeking $50M of palliative care funding in the upcoming state budget.

The state-wide petition and campaign by the same name, More funds for palliative care, aims to draw attention to “gross deficiencies’ in the availability of palliative care for adults and children.

The campaign calls for greater NSW state government funding to train a sufficient number of palliative care workers (nursing, medical and allied health) to service existing and future palliative care needs.

“Over the 10-year period from 1999 to 2009 the number of admissions for palliative care in Australian hospitals increased by 56 per cent,” the campaign website reads.

“Yet state funding has not increased since 2007 until the tiny $5 million boost this year.

“We need more than 10-times this to adequately care for palliative care needs of the people of NSW.”

Various groups have backed the palliative care funding campaign. On the list of supporters are the Leukaemia Foundation, the Groundswell project, Aged Care Crisis, the United Hospital Auxiliaries of New South Wales, Combined Pensioners and Superannuants of NSW, Cancer Council, Country Women’s Association and various Lions Clubs groups.

Tags: 2013, adhc, alzheimer, budget, dementia, lions-clubs, local-health-districts, more-funding-for-palliative-care, nhmrc, nsw,

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