Today’s revelation that 70 per cent of emergency department patients are waiting over eight hours to be moved into the main hospital highlights the absolute stupidity of the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s hospital cuts.
The report into all 121 Australian emergency departments accredited by the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine shows a public hospital system that is at breaking point.
“They reflect a hospital system that is critically overburdened and that is putting patients into the firing line.”
Associate Professor Drew Richardson, Study Author, 23 September 2015
Dr Anthony Cross, President of ACEM has warned the bed blocking is putting patients’ lives at risk with recent research finding older patients who wait more than four hours to be transferred from emergency into the main hospital are 51 per cent more likely to die than patients who waited less than four hours.
The Government must immediately reinstate the National Emergency Access Target (NEAT) that tied reward payments for hospitals to targets for quality care.
Under Labor’s 2011 National Partnership Agreement between the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments at least 90 per cent of emergency department patients would have to be admitted, referred or discharged within four hours.
However states are now being forced to abandon these targets because of the funding crisis caused by the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s decision to tear up the partnership agreement and rip $57 billion out of public hospitals.
In addition, the Abbott Government’s first Budget cut a further $3 billion from Australia’s public hospitals over the next four years by abandoning funding guarantees under the National Partnership Agreements agreed by the Commonwealth with all states and territories, and moving to inadequate indexation arrangements from 2017.
This report proves these cuts are now already increasing emergency department and elective surgery waiting times, and seeing cuts to the number of hospital beds across the country with far, far worse to come.
When the full impact of the cuts starts to bite from 2017, public hospitals will be inundated by what the Australian Medical Association has labelled a ‘perfect storm’ as increasing numbers of patients are driven into waiting rooms by the cuts to bulk billing and general practice rebates.
The AMA has already warned that state budgets will be in danger of being ‘overrun by public hospital cuts’.
State premiers have warned the cuts are unsustainable and simply amount to a massive cost shift onto patients, and the states
Today’s report is further evidence of the disastrous impact on patients of the Abbott/Turnbull health cuts.