Agreement failing our public hospitals

The AMA has found the key objectives of the agreement governing Australia’s public hospitals are not being met and needs a comprehensive makeover.

The AMA has told the mid-term review of the National Health Reform Agreement (NHRA) Addendum 2020-25 that the stated objectives of the Addendum – improving health outcomes, access and innovation, are not being met.

The AMA’s submission said years of reduced capacity and available public hospital beds per population, inadequate funding of healthcare (both public hospitals and primary care) and the absence of a framework for performance and accountability in the Addendum are the key factors impacting the deteriorating performance of our public hospital system.

"This lack of transparency has further contributed to a lack of accountability for the declining performance of public hospitals," the submissions says.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the agreement, which still has more than two years to run, is failing our public hospitals, which are in logjam.

“The AMA has carefully reviewed the objectives of the agreement and found the majority pertaining to patient outcomes, like equitable access to care or reduced emergency department demand or improved mental health outcomes, are not being met. If the agreement is failing our hospitals and our patients, it needs a radical overhaul, yet we are stuck with this flawed formula until 2025.

“With waiting lists continuing to grow and public hospital performance failing to meet key performance targets, there is a compelling case for additional funding to be made available to give our crumbling public hospitals the support they need to deliver the care patients need while we wait until a new, improved agreement comes into force.

“The next agreement needs a complete makeover. We want to see improved performance rewarded, funding to expand hospital capacity to meet community demand and measures introduced to tackle avoidable admissions and unnecessary re-admissions.

“You only have to look at our last sixteen Public Hospital Report Cards to know the system is failing. All the graphs go steadily downwards with hospital performance now at its lowest in many years.

“That’s why we’ve been campaigning since before the last election on this issue. Our ‘Clear the hospital logjam’ campaign calls for 50-50 shared Commonwealth-state funding for our hospitals and scrapping the imposed artificial cap that prevents growth in the system.”

The AMA says the declining performance of our public hospitals is a national issue.

“We implore all health ministers and all levels of government to work together to get this right for the future and to help our hospitals out in the meantime with an immediate injection of new funds,” Professor Robson said.

Read the AMA’s submission to the review

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