Media release

Hospital performance failing as health system crumbles


Hospital waiting room

With National Cabinet meeting this Friday to discuss Australia’s increasingly plagued healthcare system, the Australian Medical Association has released new analysis that reveals only three of 201 Australian public hospitals analysed are delivering care within recommended timeframes — down from 15 hospitals a year ago.   

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the logjam in Australia’s public hospitals has worsened, with continued workforce shortages, increased ambulance ramping, emergency departments beyond capacity and hospital beds unavailable when they’re needed.  

"The AMA’s report: Australian public hospitals in logjam, which is based on Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data, paints a worsening picture of emergency department and essential surgery performance,” Professor Robson said.  

In 2020–21, only 15 out of 201 hospitals received ‘green lights’ against all performance indicators, but in 2021–22, only three hospitals get a green light: Young Hospital in NSW and South Coast District and Riverland General hospitals in South Australia.   

Australians can enter their postcode into the AMA’s hospital logjam finder to see how their hospital is performing.

Professor Robson said the findings are shocking and urged Australians to visit the campaign website, share their hospital stories, look up the performance of their local hospital, and write to their local MPs. 

“The AMA’s logjam finder is the only place national hospital data is presented in this way and we’re asking people to tell us their stories and email their MPs so state and federal governments can hear their voices.   

“When National Cabinet sits down on Friday, we want ministers to tackle the backlog of surgeries that we estimate will top half a million at the end of June, because it’s devastating for every person waiting and dealing with months and months of pain.  

“It’s unlikely hospitals will be able to expand their capacity to address this backlog if there is no intervention. We are calling for a new national plan funded by all governments but with an up-front advance payment provided by the Commonwealth to support state and territory governments to expand their hospital capacity, including the workforce, to address the elective surgery backlog.” 

Professor Robson said the AMA has also been calling on the federal government to increase its share of hospital funding from 45 to 50 per cent, and to remove the annual cap on activity.  

“For their part, the states and territories need to commit to improve hospital performance by re-investing that extra five per cent. And both need to fund additional ongoing performance improvement, capacity expansion, and ways to reduce avoidable admissions.” 

Read Australian public hospitals in logjam  

Read Addressing the elective surgery backlog 

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