Hospital reforms still on table

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Labor has made major progress in fixing Australia's health system.
Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Labor has made major progress in fixing Australia's health system.

LABOR has made major progress in fixing the nation’s ailing health system despite attacks on the Government for failing to reform hospitals, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said yesterday.

Defending Labor’s handling of health, Ms Gillard pointed to infrastructure projects such as the new cancer unit at Lismore Base Hospital, due to open within months, and projects such as Grafton’s GP Super-Clinic, which is aimed to cut waiting times at hospitals.

Speaking as new figures revealed waiting times at Lismore Base Hospital well over the recommended Australian standard, Ms Gillard said the Labor Government had improved health care.

“We have been delivering as a government in the last two years on health,” Ms Gillard said.

Apart from ‘bricks and mortar’ projects, such as the cancer unit, Ms Gillard said the Government had been accelerating the training of doctors and nurses in a bid to provide the staff needed to care for the nation’s ill and injured.

“We went to the last election saying we would deliver immediate changes and we have been doing that,” she said.

As to the unfulfilled commitment to take over hospitals if the States did not fix them by mid-2009, Ms Gillard said that option remained on the table.

“We will put a major reform plan to the states and if that’s not accepted we will go to the people,” she said.

“No-one knew there would be the global financial crisis, no-one knew there would be that cataclysmic event.”

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