Kevin Rudd has made a pledge that no hospitals will close because of his planned shake-up of health funding and attacked state government bureaucrats for using scare campaigns on the matter.
The Prime Minister has started to warm up for a health debate with Tony Abbott next week, by accusing the Opposition Leader for slashing health funding while he was a health minister.
As health is one of the key issues for the federal election due this year, Rudd has announced his plans to using 30 per cent of GST receipts, allowing the commonwealth to hold responsibility for 60 per cent of public hospitals funding.
A total of $2.7 billion program is allocated to train 5,500 new general practitioners and 680 specialists in the next decade, announced the government. Other major announcements will be made before election, such as the adding more hospital beds and more funding for the mental health and dental care.
During the visit at Sydney GP clinic yesterday, Mr Rudd promoted his reform plans and rejected an NSW Health Department analysis that suggested western Sydney hospitals could lose about $130 million in funding, under his reforms.
There have been a number of scare campaigns launched by various state health bureaucrats in various parts of the country over the past couple of weeks, Mr Rudd said.
This is another one. These hospitals will benefit from the funding model we propose, and will be able to expand their services.
Mr Rudd has pledged that no hospital - large or small - would close because of his plan, at a television interview. He said he is looking forward to the health debate with Mr Abbott.
Rudd said that Mr Abbot had more than 4 years to improve the health system when he was health minister during the last years of Howard government, instead, what he did as health minister was rip a billion dollars out of the public hospital system and ... put a cap on GP training places.
His record is not a flash one.
Mr Abbott says the accusation made was baseless and that Mr Rudd would use the debate to lie about the Coalition's record.
I'm very proud of my record as the health minister under the Howard government, said Mr Abbott.
We resolved the medical indemnity crisis. We got bulk billing to record highs. We brought allied health professionals into the system for the first time. The Howard government commenced nine new medical schools. There was a 50 per cent increase in medical student numbers and 30 per cent increase in nursing student numbers.