More public hospital beds crucial to meet spiralling demand

More public hospital beds crucial to meet spiralling demand

Wednesday 18 January 2017


The future Western Australian government must address the current shortage of public hospital beds urgently, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.


“It is time for all political parties in the coming election to recognise the facts: there are fewer public hospital beds per person in our state than there were eight years ago. This harsh reality is despite the State Government spending substantial amounts of public money over that period and the opening of a number of new hospitals and health campuses,” AMA (WA) President Dr Andrew Miller said.


The average available beds has fallen from 2.4 per 1000 people in 2010 to 2.2 in 2015 – a reduction of 8.3 per cent. This reflects a completely inadequate government response to a jump in population of 13.7 per cent over that period.


“Public hospitals are really struggling under the pressures of soaring demand, with bed shortages across all areas becoming more common every day, along with code blacks, ramping and hospitals on bypass.


“We can certainly be proud of our health system in WA, but it is becoming harder for many people, especially the most vulnerable, to access good healthcare when they need it most,” Dr Miller said.


“Health should be on the minds of every politician and voter in this campaign and one of the most important issues is capacity in our public hospital system.


“A lack of hospital capacity has a dramatic impact on other aspects of healthcare, particularly in emergency departments.


“All political parties should make a firm promise that health will be number one on their agenda in government and – no lip service – they must keep that promise.


“We have already seen an announcement by the Liberal Party about an increase at Joondalup Hospital. While welcome, this decision must be duplicated at other hospitals if we simply are going to make up for what has been lost.


“In addition, wards that have been closed in recent years must be re-opened,” Dr Miller said.


Other policies that the AMA (WA) has argued must be at the forefront of any government agenda include:


• opening up ward beds and utilising new infrastructure to the fullest;
• engaging clinical workforce in the allocation and decision-making aspects of the provision of clinical care and service delivery, hospital departmental budgets and purchased activity;
• developing a comprehensive clinical capacity framework for public hospitals controlled by WA’s health boards to meet the long-term needs of the state to and beyond 2025; and
• committing to long-term, appropriate funding for WA emergency departments.

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