Decision on COVID hospital funding looming

Australia's health chief says a government decision on whether to extend COVID-19 funding for hospitals could be made over coming weeks.

In June, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed off on $760 million in funding to help the states and territories deal with the pandemic.

The hospital pandemic support was previously set to expire in September, but Mr Albanese extended that to December 31.

Under questioning from Greens senator Jordon Steele-John during a Senate estimates committee hearing on Thursday, health department secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said the government was yet to make a "firm" decision on continuing the funding.

"We are in another small COVID wave, so that will factor into those decisions of governments ... those decisions will, I believe, happen over coming weeks," he told the hearing.

"It's incorrect to say that all this COVID money will stop on New Year's Eve."

When asked if the government was expecting a reduction in hospital service demand next year, Indigenous Health Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said "no".

Senator Steele-John pressed the government on why a further extension into next year had not been announced.

In response, Senator McCarthy said the government was committed to taking the pressure off hospitals through its election commitments to strengthen Medicare, including the establishment of 50 urgent care clinics.

"We also are doing and providing other measures in the health space to relieve the burden on hospitals," she said.

Senator Steele-John said on behalf of the nation's emergency workers, he hoped the government would provide more certainty on hospital funding.

"The stress level and the fear ... and the extent to which they are burned out, is absolutely profound," he said.

The national cabinet is due to meet before the end of the year.