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Govt wields axe on health agencies, programs

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The Federal Government has lived up to its promise to take an axe to a string of health agencies and programs, announcing plans to shut down or absorb organisations including Health Workforce Australia, the Australian National Preventive Health Agency and General Practice Education and Training.

The Government expects to save almost $275 million by abolishing GPET, while absorbing Health Workforce Australia in the Health Department will free up $142 million and axing ANPHA will save $6 million.

The AMA had raised concerns that vital health workforce planning functions should be preserved, and welcomed Government assurances that functions of both the HWA and ANPHA were to be consolidated within the Department.

But the Government has caused consternation with its decision to axe a large number of programs in preventive health, dental care and eye health.

These include the $2.9 million final phase of a national anti-tobacco campaign by ANPHA, the $230 million dental flexible grants program, deferral of the $390 million National Partnership Agreement for adult public dental services, reduced optometry rebates ($90 million), axing the Diagnostic Imaging Quality Program ($14.4 million), a $54 million saving from reducing the Partners in Recovery Program , and almost $370 million saved by withdrawing from the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health.

Adrian Rollins