Public hospitals are struggling to treat patients in a timely manner – and the Australian Medical Association fears this will continue if funding is cut.
One in three urgent emergency patients are missing out on being treated within half an hour, a doctors’ report says.
The Australian Medical Association has released a scathing assessment on public hospital waiting times – but Prime Minister Tony Abbott insists planned funding cuts will go ahead.
Almost one-third of urgent emergency patients are failing to be treated within the recommended 30 minutes.
Elective surgery waiting times are still averaging 36 days.
Emergency and elective surgery times failed to improve between 2011-12 and 2012-13, the AMA’s public hospital report card for 2014 found.
Public hospital beds had fallen by 43 per cent during the past decade, with just 2.6 for every 1000 people.
AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton says the figures are disturbing given that $400 million in federal funding is set to be cut from public hospital budgets over the next four years.
“Our hospitals are under pressure,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
“This is not the time to cut funding and we’re calling on the government to make sure they spend all the money that they were proposing to spend on our public hospitals.”
But Mr Abbott blamed the shortfall on the former Labor government’s funding cuts in December 2012.
“I do not think it is realistic at this point in time to reverse them, but this is why everything we do has got to be directed towards creating a stronger economy,” he said.
Mr Abbott, a former health minister, agreed every public hospital was under budget pressures, but said the commonwealth needed higher tax revenues to fund healthcare.
The ACT had the worst performing emergency departments, with half of its urgent cases failing to be seen within half an hour, a seven per cent drop on the previous year.
Queensland made the biggest improvement in cutting emergency waiting times for urgent patients with five per cent more being seen within half an hour of arriving.
South Australia cut elective surgery waiting times by 12 days in 2012-13, while Tasmanian patients had to wait three more days in the 2012/13 financial year than they did in 2011-12.