Scathing report into public health

A SCATHING report card on the country's public health system should be a warning to the Federal Government not to slash $57billion from public hospitals, health authorities have warned.

An Australian Medical Association public hospital report card released yesterday shows a possible "perfect storm" as Commonwealth funding shrinks while hospitals are not meeting targets.

AMA federal president Brian Owler said the report showed the public hospital system was not meeting clinical demands and warned the situation would worsen if funding was cut.

He also said it should be the hottest topic of discussion at today's COAG meeting in Canberra with state health ministers.

The report noted the Federal Government's $1.8billion cut in the 2014-15 budget and another $941million cut to states in the mid-year economic outlook.

Associate Professor Owler also said $57 billion was planned to be ripped out of public hospitals from between 2017-18 and 2024-25.

"Public hospital funding will be the biggest single challenge facing state and territory finances for the foreseeable future," he said.

But Health Minister Sussan Ley says hospital funding under the Abbott government was growing.

The AMA's report card showed states and territories were failing to meet targets of seeing patients in the recommended time.

It said the national target was for 80% of emergency departments to get patients seen within the recommended time.

But it said only 70% of patients classified with "urgent" conditions were seen within the recommended half an hour.

The report card showed the number of public hospital beds has been slashed by more than 43% since 1992-93.

"Public hospital capacity is not keeping pace with population growth, and is not increasing to meet the growing demand for services," the report said.

Combined with planned funding cuts, Pro Owler said health staff would be placed under enormous stress and pressure and patients would be forced to wait longer for treatment and care. Ms Ley said she was committed to working with states and territories to deliver a more efficient hospital system.

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