Australian public hospitals need $3 billion – AMA

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Australian Medical Association (AMA) President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said the public hospital system was ?flat lining’ and the COAG meeting next week may be its last hope for resuscitation.

“Our hospital report card confirms an urgent need for the federal government to properly fund our hospitals into the future so that lives are not at risk. We know that there are 1,500 unnecessary deaths in Australia due to overcrowding in public hospitals,” Dr Capolingua said.

“The Rudd Government has acknowledged shortfalls in public health and confirmed its intention to ?deliver dramatic improvements in health care’. Well the commitment is welcome, but COAG is crunch time.

“Hospital bed capacity has been slashed by 67 percent in the past 20 years, and the impact of these cuts is biting deeply across the system.

“Emergency departments are over full. Corridors are lined with patients on trolleys because beds are simply not available ? one report showed three in four patients in emergency departments who needed to be admitted waited more than eight hours.

“Of patients needing urgent treatment one third had to wait more than half an hour. This is simply unacceptable.

“More than 10 million people rely on the public hospital system. Today these Australians are being let down ? not by the amazingly dedicated staff in our hospitals, but by an ongoing refusal to properly support them. As we know the number of Australians needing public hospitals is liable to go up.”

Dr Capolingua said public hospitals are blessed with some of the most dedicated and professional staff in the country.

“The doctors work hard, doing their best for patients, but their dedication is taken for granted. Productivity increases are rewarded with funding cuts.

“Nation wide the shortfall is 3750 public hospital beds. This demands an immediate $3 billion injection ? an injection which will return the federal contribution to a 50/50 funding split with the states.

“This upcoming COAG meeting provides an historic opportunity to set this right, to provide the funding that is desperately needed and to recommit to the ideal that made Australia’s health system the best in the world. There can be no higher priority for government.

“Doctors and their patients around the country are looking to the Rudd government to deliver on health. We need more beds, not more words, and we need them now.”

Source: Australian Medical Association, Australia

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