Media release

Cost-cutting in health risks patient care, AMA warns

Quotes can be attributed to Dr John Davis, spokesperson Australian Medical Association, Tasmania Branch

The Australian Medical Association, Tasmania Branch, is alarmed by the news that positions across the Tasmanian Health Service (THS) may not be filled even if funded under vacancy control measures demanded by the government to reduce costs.

"We have unmet demand across the system, which will only worsen if the staff are not employed to provide the services patients need.

"We cannot take any cost-cutting measures in health without seeing patients harmed through increased ambulance ramping, worsening bed block, elective surgery cancellations, and outpatient waiting lists blowing out, ultimately leading to further pressure on general practice.

"Vacancy control is a blunt instrument and could have adverse consequences if already slow recruitment processes are further slowed down or stopped, with potential recruits finding jobs elsewhere.

"Recruitment for next year's doctor-in-training workforce is opening right now – what message does this cost-cutting send to those looking to work in the THS?

"The other risk is that existing services will not get the staffing resources they need to do their job, and people will leave as a consequence.

"The health workforce is very mobile and in high demand. Tasmania cannot afford to lose good people or be unable to recruit others.

"AMA supports an efficient, cost-effective health system, and we support measures that can improve efficiency without reducing patient services or care, but that means clinicians have to be involved in the decision-making process. 

"Right now, there is not one doctor on the Vacancy Control Review Committee to ensure decisions are viewed from a system impact perspective and not just a narrow view of dollars saved.

"The THS also risks more staff being employed in the wrong places as a result of vacancy control and political commitments.

"For example, ambulance ramping is not going to be "banned" or fixed by opening more treatment points in the emergency departments (ED) as the highest priority; however, opening more sub-acute beds to move patients to will free up existing treatment points in EDs and reduce ramping.

"Without more resources in areas like sub-acute care to help alleviate bed block, not less, ambulances will remain ramped in the emergency departments, making a mockery of the government's promise to "Ban Ramping."

"Ultimately, it is down to government priorities as to what gets funded in the budget – with an ageing population and growing demand for our services, it is critical that health gets more resources, not less."

The AMA wants to know what other measures have been introduced by the THS to reduce expenditure.>>>>ENDS.

Related topics