The release today of the Australian Medical Association’s Public Hospital Report Card 2016 confirms the crisis being created by the Turnbull Government’s decision to cut more than $57 billion in public hospital funding.
Before the last election Labor had a signed agreement with all states and territories committing to fund 50% growth funding at the national efficient price. The Liberals promised to match it. Most importantly this agreement included reforms to improve the efficiency of Australia’s public hospitals to reduce waiting times and increase capacity.
Instead, in one of its first acts in government the Liberals completely walked away from this promise. In doing so, the Liberals immediately gave up on any attempt at reform and cut more than $57 billion in the process.
When these changes were announced, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird described them as a “kick in the guts” for his state.
And Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said that as a because of the cuts from Canberra “patients will suffer and patients will die”.
“The direct impact of these cuts will be further increases in emergency department waiting times and big increases in elective surgery waiting times” Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King said.
“Labor’s additional investment in public hospitals was seeing elective surgery waiting times and emergency department waiting times improving. Under the Liberals we are now going backwards”.
“The report clearly shows that emergency department waiting times are worsening, and we know this will only get much worse when the full impact of these cuts comes into effect in 2017”.
“Patently, the current arrangements are inadequate and demonstrate that this government has no interest in health reform or ensuring every Australian has access to high quality hospital care”.
With an ageing population we know the demand for public hospital services is going to increase. One way to reduce this demand is to invest in primary care and preventive health programs. Instead, the Liberals are cutting billions of dollars from Medicare through the ongoing freeze of MBS indexation, and only last month announced a further $650 million would be cut in bulk billing incentives for vital pathology and diagnostic imaging services.
Only Labor stands for every Australian having access to the highest quality healthcare, regardless of where they live and regardless of their capacity to pay.
The full report is available at https://ama.com.au/ama-public-hospital-report-card-2016