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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Inquiry into NSW health tops the list for new Health Minister

Health Industry Hub | April 3, 2023 |

MedTech News: Labor will set up an inquiry into the $33 billion NSW health budget as the foundations are starting to crack with the ongoing fragmentation of care and lack of systematic approach to health reform.

The election commitment came after the Health Services Union called for an inquiry arising from a report into the state of the NSW health system that blamed the coalition government for “chronic misallocation of resources and warped priorities”.

The report found that NSW Health “was breaking under the pressure of a post pandemic increase in demand for services, but many of the problems had been building for years”. The report made a number of recommendations including the need for a Royal Commission similar to the Aged Care and Disability Royal Commissions to facilitate an examination of the drivers and structural issues that are undermining the performance of the health system .

At the release of the report in February 2023, former NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said “What we need is more bulk-billing GPs, not more lawyers and their fees”.

However, the data paints a different picture. In 2021-22 almost 450,000 Australians delayed or did not seek care from both GPs and specialists and over 300,000 Australians delayed or did not seek care from a mental health professional due to the cost.

The report also found patient complaints about NSW health services increased by 144% during the past decade and 40% more since the start of the pandemic. From September 2021 to June 2022, 10% of people who urgently needed an ambulance in NSW waited for more than two hours.

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park, who was sworn in last week, said the preparatory work on a wide-ranging inquiry would begin as soon as possible.

“Over the coming weeks and months we will finalise the terms of reference and will make sure funding is allocated to commence this important work,” Park said.

“It’s a priority of mine because it will provide an opportunity to examine how we are allocating precious taxpayers’ dollars and whether we can do it better to ensure we are doing everything possible to deliver the best health services for the community.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the new surgical taskforce would be modelled on one in New Zealand, which is overseen by a 10-person board.

Premier Minns said “The taskforce will be charged with ensuring we make a real dent in the elective surgery waiting list, as over 100,000 people are currently waiting, including the 17,000 that are waiting longer than clinically recommended in NSW.”

In fact, in NSW twice as many patients wait for elective surgery more than 1 year compared to Victoria and three times as many NSW patients wait more than 1 year for elective surgery than in Queensland.

There has been more than 20 major reports into sections of the NSW health system over 40 years without substantial action, making an “overwhelming” case for a royal commission, according to Gerard Hayes, Health Services Union secretary.

He said there needed to be a forensic examination of the state’s “$33 billion health spend. I want to get to a point where we have an evidence-based increase. It’s going to be fit for purpose for the next 10 to 15 years,” Hayes said.

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