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Record health spending in SA budget

The South Australian government will pump an extra $2.4 billion into health over the next five years in a record spend to boost the ailing sector.

Handing down its first budget since coming to power in March, the Labor government said fixing the problems in health, including the ambulance ramping crisis, remained front and centre to its strategy for the next four years.

“This is an extraordinary commitment to health facilities, services and staffing levels in our state,” Treasurer Stephen Mullighan said.

“The single largest allocation of health funding of any budget in the state’s history.”

The budget includes $124 million to recruit an extra 350 ambulance staff, including 278 paramedics and 72 ambulance officers.

It provides $65.4 million for 101 additional doctors, including specialists, as well as 10 additional child psychologists, to ease pressure on existing staff with a pledge to hire more doctors graduating from the state’s universities.

The government will also fund an additional 304 nurses across the health system to support an extra 326 hospital and mental health beds, at the same time as legislating minimum staffing ratios.

In health infrastructure, the budget provides $1.44 billion over four years towards the cost of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and $127 million towards the cost of building a new hospital at Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills.

It also allocates $120 million for a new ambulance headquarters in Adelaide and $67.2 million for four new ambulance stations.

A further $46 million is provided for regional hospital infrastructure upgrades at Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Mount Gambier, Naracoorte and on Kangaroo Island, and $28 million for a new cancer service at Modbury Hospital.

Mr Mullighan said the Labor government remained committed to improving the efficiency of the health system, but had allocated $400 million over five years to reduce the $800 million savings target imposed on the sector by the previous government.

“We are in a position to fund these measures, not only because we believe this is the highest priority for the South Australian community but because we also choose not to proceed with a $662 million basketball stadium,” the treasurer said.

“We have dedicated all of the funds set aside for the stadium, and much more, for these health initiatives, as we committed to do at the recent election because it is the right priority for our community.”

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