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Heads In Sand Over Public Hospitals

“Health Minister And Treasurer Have Heads In Sand Over Public Hospitals; Rocky Road Ahead”

“Health Minister Annette King and Treasurer Michael Cullen have their heads in the sand over their claims that there is fat in public hospitals,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

“Their justification for the approximate 0.5% increase for existing public hospital services (3% less than the current cost of providing them) is that there are efficiency gains and productivity gains to be made. They also try to spread a myth that public hospitals were well funded in recent years. Strangely they never said this before the last election when in opposition.”

“Public hospitals were savaged by under-funding over the past decade. In the first half of the 1990s public hospitals were in real terms cut by about 13%. This was compensated for in the second half of the 1990s but largely through short-term tagged funding for non-acute surgery. If there was any fat it has long gone. But both ministers conveniently forget this fact.”

“They seem to be operating under the naive belief that spending more in primary care reduces pressures on public hospitals. While primary care deserves better funding, because there is no evidence that this will create savings for public hospitals. If there are any savings they will be many years away. Raiding public hospitals will be counter-productive.”

“The continued under-funding in public hospitals will create a rocky rock ahead for the next few months at least as we struggle to maintain quality care for patients in an environment of political irresponsibility,” concluded Mr Powell.

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