Health check for hospitals
27th October, 2010
Pete Ross, Senior Government Analyst
A spate of issues regarding the Australian health system has recently become apparent, and these shed some light on the state of of the public health system at this critical stage.
The issues have come into light as the Commonwealth has announced an overhaul of the national health system in April of this year. The overhaul will be a result of several health reforms slated to take place, and one of those reforms is an increased health budget (estimated to be $56.9 billion in 2010-11 and $284.7 billion over 4 years), which the majority of public hospitals are being encouraged to apply for.
Certain states are having more issues with their health systems than others. Western Australia is reporting an outdated Patient Administration System (PAS) which is putting patients’ lives at risk, and on-going pay disputes between the Department and health support workers are leading to strikes that is affecting the operations of the hospitals. In Queensland, chronic bureaucracy issues are causing delays in resolving issues such as an acute lack of parking at Queensland Health, and payroll issues stemming from a new payroll system introduced earlier this year leading to the resignation of the head of Queensland Health. South Australia is reporting a threat of Government funding cuts, which many fear will result in several regional hospitals ceasing operations. Victorian hospitals are experiencing a shortage of hospital beds that is leading to long waits for patients to receive post-surgical care.
However, with the increased health budget introduced by the Federal Government to help tackle the issues in the health care system, there are several opportunities for procurement. Regional MP’s and councils are using the new post-Federal election climate of rural dominance to call for new hospitals all across the country. The Victorian Government has announced that the upgrades for the Bendigo Hospital will be 90% locally sourced. In New South Wales, “urgent care centres” are being implemented to alleviate some of the stress on emergency services in certain areas, and if successful, there could be many more put into operation throughout the state which will need equipment, uniforms and other health care-related goods and services. New South Wales is also overhauling its health system by establishing new local hospital networks and this is being financed by the Commonwealth’s health reforms.
There are several critical issues that need to be addressed in the public health system in Australia, and the endemic problems in the health systems of several states, and the pressure that the urban health systems are undergoing, is now sparking debate at all levels of government. There is a push for the Federal Government and the State Governments to address these issues and the health reforms are a start to what will hopefully be a conscientious effort by all those involved to improve the public health system in Australia.
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