Malcolm Turnbull’s neglect of our public hospitals is undermining Medicare and universal access, with new data revealing that people’s capacity to pay can determine how long they will wait for essential surgery.
Access to health care should be determined by your Medicare card – not your credit card.
New data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveals that patients who use private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission for elective surgery in public hospitals have their waiting time halved – from 42 days to 20 days.
The report also reveals that Australians living in higher socio-economic areas experience significantly lower waiting times than those living in lower socio-economic areas. As an example, an Australian classified as living in the lowest socioeconomic area will have to wait more than twice as long for a cataract extraction compared with someone from the highest socioeconomic tier – waiting 137 days compared with 63 days.
Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King said that these are the shocking consequences of this Government’s neglect of public hospitals.
“The Liberals tore up Labor’s historic hospitals agreements and gutted public hospital funding, and patients are now paying the price,” Ms King said.
“Elective surgery waiting times under Malcolm Turnbull are the worst they’ve ever been since records started being kept in 2001, and still the Government has done absolutely nothing to address the issue.
“Malcolm Turnbull can’t think these statistics are acceptable. His failure to invest properly in health isn’t just costing Australians more when they visit the GP – it is hurting them when they walk into our public hospitals as well.
“Last week’s Budget was a bitter disappointment for our public hospitals – the Government didn’t allocate any additional funding to address the blowout in elective surgery wait times or the queues in our emergency departments.
During the election campaign, Labor committed to end Malcolm Turnbull’s attack on Medicare by unfreezing the Medicare Benefits Schedule. Labor also committed to restoring the National Health Reform Agreement on hospitals for four years, and providing additional support to the States and Territories to reduce waiting times for elective surgery and in public hospital emergency departments.
“No one should be able to jump the queue in our public hospitals – access to health care should be solely determined by need, not ability to pay. Unfortunately Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to hospitals have created this situation where Medicare and universal access are being undermined and patients are paying the price.”
WEDNESDAY, 17 MAY 2017