Concerns are up over Australia’s public healthcare coming under stress from reduced funding. This follows the Federal and state governments blaming each other for the fund crunch.
According to the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) annual public hospital report card, the quality of public hospital services is going down. It noted the rising waiting times for emergency departments in Australia. The AMA said 68 percent of “urgent” emergency department patients are being seen only within half an hour.
AMA president Brian Owler sees the root cause of the problem in the apathy of Federal government in boosting funding for healthcare. He said most of the state governments are trying their best to reduce hospital waiting times. But the disappointing results in the report card indicate the pressure of growing demand for public hospital services, reports ABC News.
In the case of emergency department visits, it is taking four hours to complete 73 percent patients. That misses the target of 90 percent set in 2015 for all state governments. Also the hike in hospital beds is too marginal and is inadequate to meet the growing demand. However, the silver lining was the improvement in elective surgery waiting times. Here the current average patient waiting time is 35 days though it was only 27 days back in 2001.
Owler urged the Federal Government not to slash income tax rates as long as the public hospital system remained underfunded. His plea comes in the backdrop of Treasurer Scott Morrison’s upcoming Tax White Paper, where he is advocating changes in personal and corporate tax systems.
Owler said Morrison’s proposal that cutting income tax would boost jobs and growth has caused concern. “What we want to see is any revenue that is raised is kept in health, and we’ve seen some worrying comments from the new Treasurer Scott Morrison saying that he wants to fund personal income tax cuts — now that is not what that discussion was about,” Owler said.
Considered world-class in terms of effectiveness and efficiency, Australian healthcare system has a mix of public and private health providers. The Federal Government dons the primary role in framing policies and funding for Aussie healthcare. As state, territory and local governments are responsible for the delivery of public healthcare services, any reduction in Federal funding will adversely hit the common man’s health and well being.