Stroke Foundation welcomes health budget boost

Stroke Foundation has welcomed the Australian Government’s $115.5 billion commitment to essential health services announced in the 2020-2021 Budget.

While much of the budget was understandably focused on responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Budget also continued investment to deliver on the National Health Plan. This included strengthening Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), mental health and medical research.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said it was important to recognise stroke and broader chronic disease does not stop for COVID-19.

“One in four of people globally will have a stroke in our lifetime,” Ms McGowan said.

“Much of Government, the media and community attention this year has been focused on management of the pandemic. As we transition from emergency to a global pandemic to living in a COVID-19 risk world, we must ensure that those living with chronic disease are supported to manage their health and live well.

“As we move into a COVID-19 recovery phase we can build on some of the key learnings from the response to this crisis and apply them more broadly across the health system.

“We have seen the value of prevention and early detection strategies, clear public health messaging, rapid translation of research into practice and innovations in tele/videohealth.

“The 2020-2021 Budget provides a solid foundation for us to build on, strengthening the health system for all Australians. We look forward to continuing to work with the Government to prevent stroke and reduce its impact on our community,” she said.

Ms McGowan applauded the Government for increasing mental health supports.

“Doubling Medicare subsidised psychology sessions and making them available via telehealth will deliver tangible ad much needed help to the one in three stroke survivors who will suffer depression and anxiety after stroke,” she said.

“Further, we would welcome similar action on allied health more generally for stroke. Currently survivors of stroke have access to just five Medicare funded sessions with an allied health professional – physiotherapist, speech pathologists or occupational therapist – in person or via telehealth. We are calling on the Government to expand these sessions to ten per year for the telehealth access to be continued.”

“These measures will help those living with stroke recover and stay well.”

Ms McGowan said it was exciting to see the Government continue its stroke focus on research investment.

“Stroke can be prevented, it can be treated and it can be beaten. Research holds the key,” she said.

Stroke Foundation’s 2020-2021 Pre-Budget Submission

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