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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
The Sustainable Health Review’s Interim Report includes a number of positive recommendations along with questionable findings, most notably the claim that there are enough hospital beds in the system to serve demand through the next decade, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.
“The current reality is that many of our hospitals are already at or even above capacity and this is experienced by patients and staff on a daily basis,” AMA (WA) President Dr Omar Khorshid said.
“To suggest that this will be acceptable or even tolerable for another decade is ludicrous, and defies all credible data on safe capacity levels. “Even the report itself comments on the predicted increase in demand for health care for the foreseeable future.”
“It has been recommended that capacity at hospitals should not exceed 85 per cent, anything beyond that can result in risks to patient outcomes. However that figure is becoming more of a pipe dream year after year,” Dr Khorshid said.
“However there are a number of positive recommendations in the Report, such as a renewed focus on preventative health initiatives, including reducing the burden of childhood obesity, alcohol and drug abuse.
“These are recommendations that will save lives, make us a healthier community and significantly save money in the long run,” he said.
“It is time that WA got really serious about preventative medicine. WA can be the healthiest state in Australia,” he said.
Dr Khorshid acknowledged that health professionals are well-paid in WA and that the government employees had moved into a period of lower wage growth.
“We are lucky to have one of the best health systems in the world, and that is largely due to the fantastic talent we produce locally and attract from the Eastern States and overseas. We need to stay competitive or risk losing our best and brightest health professionals.
“While there are some positive recommendations in the Interim Report, we hope that the State Government does not use it as the only map for the future of health in WA, or use it as an excuse to cut state health spending now or further down the track,” Dr Khorshid said.
“It is vital that the Government not allow themselves to use this report blindly but listen and consult with those who actually work in the health system.”
Dr Khorshid added that he agreed WA did not get its fair share from GST and Medicare revenue back from the Federal Government and that this had to change.
The AMA (WA) welcomed the Report’s recommendation that action is required to build a new women’s hospital at QEII Medical Campus and that access to both acute and community mental health care be improved.