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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
The upcoming State Budget needs to substantially increase funding for health infrastructure, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.
Forward estimates show a reduction of more than 95 per cent in total funding for the WA Health Asset Investment Program by 2019-20.
“This is a very worrying indicator. Appropriate investment in assets is vital for the WA Health service, particularly in rural and outer metropolitan hospitals, and is required to ensure that hospitals and healthcare professionals are not left to deliver a level of clinical care that exceeds infrastructure capacity,” AMA (WA) President Dr Omar Khorshid said.
The AMA (WA) delivered its Budget Submission to Health Minister Roger Cook last week in a formal meeting, and emphasised the importance of maintaining health spending.
“We realise the budget situation is tight. However healthcare is one area of spending where cuts provide a false economy. We regularly hear first-hand accounts from doctors describing the negative impact that budget cuts have on patient care,” Dr Khorshid said.
“It’s easy to make spending cuts. It is hard if not impossible to maintain good healthcare. Patient care should not suffer at the hands of a government razor committee.
“All too often, attempts to make savings result in arbitrary cuts and indiscriminate efficiency dividends, both of which result in more costly, poorer patient outcomes and often require increased investment to rectify in following years or decades,” he said.
The last decade has seen substantial investment by WA Governments in health, especially new and renovated hospitals.
“This expenditure was very welcome and necessary. Despite more than $7 billion being invested in infrastructure, the total capacity hardly increased at all. Substantial investment is desperately needed in Royal Perth Hospital, King Edward Memorial Hospital and Graylands Hospital Campus,” Dr Khorshid said.
“The situation at King Edward Memorial Hospital is especially worrying. A total of $1.1 million was allocated to new works at the hospital in 2017-18 State Budget, with $325,000 allocated to holding expenses and a Maternal Foetal Assessment.
“The fact that there is no other significant investment for KEMH, and no clear funding in the future raises serious questions about the sustainability of the hospital and the provision of specialist healthcare to women and babies in WA,” Dr Khorshid said.
Other areas of spending priorities recommended by the AMA (WA) Budget Submission include General Practice, public health, capacity, health IT systems, rural health, and the importance of innovation and research.
“Some of the issues raised in our submission to the State Government are long standing. Governments have heard our voice before and many of our ideas have been acted upon. We are a healthier place as a result.
“The goal of a budget surplus should not be an altar on which health is sacrificed,” Dr Khorshid said.