The government of Victoria in Australia is providing a A$35m ($24m) fund to replace ageing life-saving medical equipment with new models in 20 hospitals across the state.

Funding was provided in the latest round of the Medical Equipment Replacement programme, which supports hospitals to continue to deliver the highest possible patient care.

Under the upgrade, Alfred Hospital is receiving a MRI unit, replacement CT unit, two echocardiography units with 3D imaging and an angiographic fluoroscopy unit.

Other hospitals in the region will receive equipment such as CT scanners, digital x-ray rooms, gamma cameras and angiography units.

Smaller medical items will also be received, including fully ergonomic electronic beds and patient chairs, defibrillators, imaging units, infant incubators, patient monitors, scopes and sterilisers.

"We are investing in our hospitals to give them the tools and equipment they need to save lives and provide the very best patient care."

The government noted that Victorian hospitals will have access to A$10m in new funding to replace and upgrade ageing ICT equipment, with 88 health services across the state benefiting from the latest round of funding.

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The funding announcement emerged amidst cuts in health funding that will force patients to pay upfront for what they were bulk billed earlier.

The Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association noted that patients who were previously bulk billed may now be forced to pay A$500 ($243) for an MRI, A$396 ($271) for a CT scan and A$1,000 ($686) for a PET scan.

According to the government, patients who require multiple scans can face upfront costs of A$1,500 ($1,030) and A$400 ($274) even after receiving their Medicare rebates.

Increased costs may see many patients forego the early diagnostic service to avoid being charged additional fees, leading to more patients being diagnosed later.

Victoria health minister Jill Hennessy said: "We are investing in our hospitals to give them the tools and equipment they need to save lives and provide the very best patient care."