Longer hospital waits no surprise when there’s no real plan for action

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

‘Today’s reports of longer waiting times in emergency departments, and longer waits for elective surgery in public hospitals are no surprise’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘They are the result of deliberate decisions by governments to under-invest in primary care and public hospitals, despite growing demand for these services, and public concerns about the cost of private healthcare.

‘The end result is a less healthy community, leading to reduced productivity and even bigger medical bills later on. 

‘In the past few weeks, due to bushfires and unprecedented levels of air pollution, many more people than usual are presenting to public hospital emergency departments with respiratory problems and heat-related conditions.

‘As we approach the Christmas holidays, we know that our public hospitals will unfortunately be busier than ever providing urgent and emergency care.

‘There are few alternatives—after all, public hospitals provide almost all emergency department care in Australia.

‘Even if affordability was not an issue, the private hospital sector is not set up for this kind of work.

‘Our questions to Minister Hunt and the Morrison government this Christmas are:

  • How long will you continue to ignore the evidence that private health care is too expensive for many Australians?
  • How long will you continue to ignore the increased waiting times for care that are the result of under-investment in primary care and public hospitals?
  • How long do Australians have to wait until you do something about it?
  • With 6 years in government already behind you, and more than 2 years ahead of you—where’s the real plan for strengthening our health system?

‘National strategies that cover the cracks in our health system like wallpaper are not a plan. Neither is pot shot investment in pet projects.

‘At the government’s invitation, our association put forward a real plan at the end of 2017—our Healthy people, healthy systems blueprint.

‘Many others are now putting forward ideas similar to what we had in the Blueprint—we urge all governments to take another look with a view to immediate and real action.

‘We need a health system that can cope with today’s health problems rather than yesterday’s.’

More information on AHHA is available at ahha.asn.au

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries:  Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA

0403 282 501