Australian doctors say the public hospital system is ‘flat lining’ and rural hospitals are feeling the strain



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According to the Australian Medical Association (AMA) when conditions for staff and patients at regional hospitals are compared with those at city hospitals, our country cousins lose out.

A Clinicians Hospital Improvement Coalition has banded together comprised of the AMA, the Hospital Reform Group and the Doctors Reform Society and according to AMA president Brian Morton it will oversee the implementation of recommendations from the Garling Inquiry into acute care in the state’s hospitals.

Dr. Morton says the Garling Inquiry report due to be released this week will confirm that rural and regional hospitals are struggling and lack the back-up of another hospital 15 to 20 minutes away from them, which places them under greater pressure to continue to supply services to their communities.

Dr. Morton has called on NSW Health to respond effectively to Mr Garling’s recommendations and says the Hospital Improvement Coalition wants to ensure the report does remain on a shelf “gathering dust”.

AMA President, Dr. Rosanna Capolingua says the public hospital system is ‘flat lining’ and there are 1,500 unnecessary deaths in Australia due to overcrowding in public hospitals.

Dr. Capolingua says while the government has acknowledged shortfalls in public health and confirmed its intention to ‘deliver dramatic improvements in health care’, it is now ‘crunch time’ as emergency departments are overflowing and three in four patients in emergency departments who need to be admitted sometimes wait more than eight hours.

Dr. Capolingua says the slashing of hospital bed capacity by 67% in the past 20 years has impacted across the system and some conditions are simply unacceptable and the millions Australians who rely on the public hospital system are being let down by an ongoing refusal to properly support public hospitals.

She says even though public hospitals have some of the most dedicated and professional staff in the country, their dedication is taken for granted and productivity increases are rewarded with funding cuts.

According to the AMA the nation wide shortfall amounts to 3,750 public hospital beds, needing an immediate $3 billion injection - which will return the federal contribution to a 50/50 funding split with the states.

In a report by the AMA published in the British Medical Journal the under-funding of the Australian health system has been blamed for 1,500 unnecessary deaths a year.

The AMA warns that the country’s public health system is facing a major crisis because of under-investment.

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