Rob Williams

Australian hospitals facing “imminent crisis”: AMA

THE country's peak medical body believes the Australian public hospital system is facing an "imminent crisis" as a result of Federal Government funding cuts.

The Australian Medical Association's Public Hospital Report Card, released yesterday, said the performance of the public hospital system was stagnating, and declining in some categories.

AMA president Professor Brian Owler said the disappointing results were a direct consequence of funding reductions and warned hospitals would struggle until the cuts were reversed.

"The states and territories are facing a public hospital funding black hole from 2017 when growth in federal funding slows to a trickle," he said.

"As a result, hospitals will have insufficient funding to meet the increasing demand for services.

"Public hospital funding is about to become the single biggest challenge facing state and territory finances - and the dire consequences are already starting to show."

He said Federal Treasury analysis found the health budget cuts would take $57 billion from the hospital system over seven years.

In response, Health Minister Sussan Ley denied federal funding for hospitals had been cut, saying it was set to increase $3.3 billion in the forward estimates.

"Hospital spending under the Turnbull government increases each and every year and there were no policy changes in the 2015-16 Budget or MYEFO which affect this," she said in a statement.

University of Melbourne health economics professor Philip Clarke said although public hospitals required more funding, they also needed to improve their efficiencies.

The AMA's statistics showed hospital performance in NSW was flatlining. In Queensland, emergency department waiting times had increased but elective surgery waiting times were down.

The report found South Australia, Tasmania and the territories had struggled to meet performance targets.

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