Health and science funding in Australia are facing huge cutbacks under the new Government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott leading to expectations that the existing telehealth programmes will be reduced or abandoned as a direct result. A raft of cuts include closure of health and science agencies, funding cuts to major research institutes and the introduction of co-payment for each GP visit.
The Guardian reported that a cut of $1.8 billion of planned health payments to the States will take place over the next four years and The Lancet reports that the government’s share of the health service funding will be cut by $15 billion per year by 2024. The treasurer for New South Wales has stated that NSW itself would need to find an extra $1.2 bn over the next four years. ABC reported yesterday that the South Australian Government is planning to shut hundreds of hospital beds in next month’s budget in what will be the largest cut in its history.
Where will this leave the Australian telehealth and telecare services which have been showing rapid take-up in the recent past, helped along by several far-sighted Government initiatives such as Medicare Locals and telehealth pilots? And what impact will there be on the recent One in Four Lives industry initiative?