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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Only 1% of public hospitals deliver care within recommended timeframes

Health Industry Hub | February 1, 2023 |

MedTech News: With National Cabinet meeting this Friday to discuss an overhaul of the healthcare system, new analysis has been released on the delivery of care in public hospitals.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) President, Professor Steve Robson, said the logjam in Australia’s public hospitals has worsened with continued workforce shortages, increased ambulance ramping, emergency departments beyond capacity and hospital beds unavailable when they’re needed.  

In 2020–21, only 15 out of 201 hospitals received ‘green lights’ against all performance indicators, but in 2021–22, only three hospitals get a green light: Young Hospital in NSW and South Coast District and Riverland General hospitals in South Australia.   

He said “They’re more than statistics. They are human stories and they’re stories of suffering and pain of people waiting for care, waiting for urgent emergency department care, surgery and treatments around the country.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said a report from the Medicare Taskforce will be considered by leaders at Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

“We need to have better interaction of primary healthcare and the hospital system. Part of the key here is to get people out of emergency departments. We need to talk through the hospital system, the way that it works, as a whole,” he said.

Professor Robson said the findings are shocking and urged Australians to visit the campaign website, share their hospital stories, look up the performance of their local hospital, and write to their local MPs. 

“The AMA’s logjam finder is the only place national hospital data is presented in this way and we’re asking people to tell us their stories and email their MPs so state and federal governments can hear their voices.”

He added “When National Cabinet sits down on Friday, we want ministers to tackle the backlog of surgeries that we estimate will top half a million at the end of June, because it’s devastating for every person waiting and dealing with months and months of pain.  

“It’s unlikely hospitals will be able to expand their capacity to address this backlog if there is no intervention. We are calling for a new national plan funded by all governments but with an up-front advance payment provided by the Commonwealth to support state and territory governments to expand their hospital capacity, including the workforce, to address the elective surgery backlog.” 

Professor Robson said the AMA has been calling on the federal government to increase its share of hospital funding from 45% to 50%, and to remove the annual cap on activity.  

“We need long term reform, and we’re suggesting 50-50 Commonwealth state and territory funding. We need to scrap the artificial cap and we need to look at a return to pay-per-performance so that hospitals that perform well are rewarded.

“For their part, the states and territories need to commit to improve hospital performance by reinvesting that extra 5%. And both need to fund additional ongoing performance improvement, capacity expansion, and ways to reduce avoidable admissions,” he said.

Opposition health spokesperson, Senator Anne Ruston, said the government needs to address the workforce shortages to open up timely access to healthcare.

“It’s time for the Albanese Labor government to stop talking about the problems and start implementing measures that will address the crisis in healthcare,” she said.

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