The AMA’s latest Public Hospital Report Card revealed Australia has lost six public hospital beds for every 1000 people aged over 65 years since 2008. The report showed the ratio of total hospital beds for every 1000 people aged 65 and over dropped to 14.9 – a decrease of one bed from the previous year. This was the 28th consecutive year of falling bed numbers.
More than one in three people waited longer than the clinically-recommended 30 minutes to receive emergency.
Elective surgery wait times were worse with one in three patients in 2020-21 waiting longer than the clinically indicated 90 days for Category 2 elective surgery, while Category 3 elective surgery declined even further. A further indicator has been included in the 2022 report card showing the ‘hidden wait list’, highlighting the time between a GP referral and an actual appointment, before a patient even joins the elective waiting list.
There was extensive media coverage of the report card beginning with a 5-minute slot on morning TV and extensive coverage in News Corp papers around the country, with evening news stories running over two nights.
The impact of long waits for essential surgery was illustrated with the compelling story of 2-year old Izzy McGarry whose mother, Siobhan Sefton, wrote to the AMA’s ‘Clear the Hospital Logjam’ campaign. As reported by SevenNews, Izzy missed important speech and learning milestones while waiting for cleft palate surgery and grommets for hearing loss, routine surgeries with life-changing outcomes.
The launch of the national report card and remaining state chapters followed the release by AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid of the SA and Tas chapters in those states last week. ABC focused on falling bed numbers in WA, as did channel ten news which also highlighted WA had the second-longest wait times in EDs after the ACT.
Released just three days ahead of the Federal budget as part of the AMA’s strategy to elevate public hospital funding as a Federal election issue, the report card also caught the attention of Nine media, and SBS World News.
AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid told radio news outlets the federal election was an opportunity for Australians to raise their concerns about public hospitals, to election candidates and to consider Health when looking at who to vote for.
The AMA’s ‘Clear the hospital logjam’ campaign is encouraging voters to lobby their MPs to change the way public hospitals are funded.