Public hospitals in state of emergency-AMA-NewsCO

February 16, 2017

Doctors have declared a state of emergency for Australia’s public hospitals.

The Australian Medical Association’s 2017 hospital report card shows the facilities are failing patients because they’re “overstretched” due to “inadequate” funding.

AMA president Dr Michael Gannon says Australia’s public hospitals in every state and territory are in a constant “state of emergency”.

The AMA report examineD public emergency department waiting and treatment times, and elective surgery waiting and treatment times.

Across 48 key measures, there were 40 “fails” and only three positives.

The analysis of Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) statistics shows bed number ratios have remained static, emergency department (ED) waiting times for urgent patients have worsened, as have waiting times for elective surgery.

Only 67 per cent of emergency department patients classified as urgent in 2015/16 were seen within the recommended 30 minutes.

In 2015/16, 73 per cent of all emergency department visits were completed in four hours or less.

That figure has not changed over the past three years and is well short of the 90 per cent target set to be achieved by the end of 2015.

Median waiting times for all elective surgery have increased over the last 10 years.

In 2015/16, the national median waiting time increased to 37 days, the longest median waiting time reported since 2001-02.

“To put it bluntly, public hospital performance against these measures across all states and territories is woeful,” Dr Gannon said on Friday.

Year after year doctors and nurses were being asked to do more with less, said Dr Gannon.

“Our over-stretched and over-stressed public hospitals are suffering because of inadequate and uncertain Commonwealth funding, which is choking public hospitals and their capacity to provide essential services.”

The federal government announced at a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in April 2016 additional funding of $2.9 billion over three years.

While this was welcomed by the AMA, government funding for public hospitals remained inadequate, Dr Gannon said.

“Public hospitals require sufficient and certain funding to deliver these essential services. The commonwealth must work with the states and territories to reach an agreed long-term strategy to fund public hospitals appropriately,” he added.

Originally published as Public hospitals in state of emergency-AMA

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