The Last Word: Support the AMA’s public hospital advocacy | AMA (WA)

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The Last Word: Support the AMA’s public hospital advocacy

Monday May 30, 2022

Dr Omar Khorshid, AMA Federal President

Our public hospitals are in crisis. You may have heard me repeat this more than a few times lately.

While this repetition risks becoming annoying, my aim is to really annoy our politicians, enough that they listen and act for change.

I’ve listened to the experiences of my hospital doctor colleagues and the AMA’s Federal Council – both want me to push hard for reform of public hospital funding. The AMA just can’t stand by and let our calls for action be ignored further. The Federal Budget was the government’s latest missed opportunity. That’s why our Clear the hospital logjam campaign is running now and right up to the general election.

This is in addition to our campaign on preventative health (#sicklysweet) and our ongoing advocacy on private healthcare, and General Practice funding. Throughout the campaign, our focus will be on raising the urgent need for substantial Medicare investment and private health reform. But the cycle of crisis in our public hospitals must be arrested immediately.

You’ve read the latest evidence in these pages from our Public Hospital Report Card, and the media has picked up on it, with ABC focused on falling bed numbers in WA, and Channel Ten news highlighting WA has the second-longest wait times in EDs after the ACT.

Our campaign aims to bring the public along with us, educating the electorate that the current funding formula is abjectly failing and needs to change. Ambulance ramping, bed block, overfull EDs, long waits for elective surgery, and hospitals operating at full capacity were all happening before COVID-19 arrived, and are all a product of underfunding.

We want the current funding formula to be replaced with partnership funding to improve hospital performance, expand capacity, and address avoidable admissions. The AMA asks that Commonwealth and state governments each contribute 50 per cent of hospital funding (currently states pay 55 per cent and the Commonwealth pays 45 per cent), and the 6.5 per cent cap on hospital activity growth should be scrapped to accommodate future demand from our ageing communities.

Under our four-point solution, the Federal Government would increase its share of funding by 5 per cent, but states can’t be let off the hook – they must commit to re-invest that extra 5 per cent into improving hospital performance. In the case of WA, the state government cannot be allowed to shirk its responsibility to address the real cuts to recurrent health funding over recent years, despite its massive budget surpluses. Decisions of the McGowan Government have brought our public hospitals to their knees, and we must hold the Government to account in order to achieve change.

We know voters understand this, and are concerned about healthcare. We’re encouraging them to check how hospitals are coping in their area by using the campaign hospital log-jam finder, and then email their MPs, urging them to act on hospital funding. In coming weeks, there will be virtual ‘town hall’ events where the experiences of frontline healthcare workers will be shared. Prospective electoral candidates will be invited, and we’ll seek pledges from them on public hospitals. And even if nothing changes by the election, we’ll continue our advocacy.

Here’s how you can support our campaign:

ƒ Tell us about your experience by emailing hospitals@ama.com.au or clicking the ‘tell us your story’ button on ama.com.au/clear-the-hospital-logjam.
ƒ Use our hospital logjam finder and email your MP.
ƒ Share our campaign content, such as our social media posts.
ƒ Download a poster for your office, workplace or clinic.
ƒ Attend a ‘virtual townhall’ event.
ƒ Download a campaign email signature and add to your email.
ƒ Sign up at the campaign website to receive regular newsletters on the campaign’s progress and upcoming events, and following us on Twitter or Facebook.

It’s time our governments reversed the year-on-year decline in our hospitals with proper, long-term funding. With your support, we have a greater chance of convincing them.

References
Research paper on public hospitals:  ama.com.au/ public-hospitals-cycle-of-crisis

The 2022 AMA Public Hospital Report Card can be accessed at ama.com.au/clear-the-hospital-logjam/phrc

The AMA’s four-point solution for hospital funding reform: https://www.ama.com.au/clear-the-hospital-logjam/solutio