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Funding required, stat!

This mornings SMH has an article detailing the crisis that we have in the Emergency Departments here in NSW.

Mrs Skinner said: “They are the worst emergency department figures I have seen in my 13 years in the job. No wonder the Government tried to hide them. The Garling inquiry was told that stressed ED staff need more doctors, experienced nurses and beds in wards but nothing has been done.”

The numbers are pretty horrific.

About 17 per cent of people who present with imminently life-threatening conditions (triage 2 category) are not being seen within the required 10 minutes and 32 per cent of those with potentially life-threatening conditions (category 3) are not being seen within the necessary 30 minutes, up from 15 per cent and 30 per cent 18 months ago.

For me the most salient point is this:

There were 153,897 people seen in emergency departments between June and September, up from 137,117 in June 2007, with most of the increase in the middle and lower triage categories.

“Bed numbers have not changed in 10 years but we are seeing about 40 per cent more patients through our emergency departments,” Dr McCarthy said.

I reckon we need a rethink of our priorities – both in NSW and the rest of Australia. Do we want governments that run surplus after surplus whilst our basic services degrade? Or do we want to maintain first-class standards in our hospitals?



15 Responses

  1. And it is the NSW Labor government here that I am criticising (something that Neil says we never ever ever ever do).

  2. Crises in Emergency Departments are not confined to New South Wales. Rather they are the norm across all States and Territories within Australia and it has been like that for years.

    While bad management may be evident in some instances, the root cause is a lack of funding which affects all aspects of service delivery. There is not enough money for recurrent expenditure. There are not enough funds for medical education, as is evident by the immoral practice of importing doctors from third world countries whose needs are much greater than ours. Indeed it is a scandal that a rich country like Australia isn’t a net exporter of doctors. Cuba can do it but we seems to lack the commitment.

    Political parties of all colours lack the courage to tell the truth about inadequate funding and instead take the ‘cheap’ shot about the Minister’s supposed incompetence. And the evidence is that we buy that crap.

    The enemy is clearly visible – it is us. We are not prepared to pay for what we want.

  3. Let’s face the facts, the state governments are atrocious and getting worse by the decade and the feds are going down the same path in my opinion.

    Until the feds take control of health and other services these will only deteriorate further and then again there is no guarantee that the situation will improve either but I doubt it would get worse.

  4. N5 and scaper,

    Agree completely – we want top notch services but do not want to pay for them, and that is the thing we need to change in the publics perception.

  5. I don’t think the Feds taking control in toto is the solution, if that happened under Howard’s watch we would have ended up with a moribund US type health system.

    The Feds controlling everything and getting rid of States is not the answer and never will be. What needs to happen is a greater Fed regulatory and monetary control over States running essential services, but that of course opens the way for a Federal government to hold States to ransom as Howard attempted to do. So there has to be some sort of control put on the Federal government as well.

    Rudd is sort of heading down this path and I’ve liked what he is doing for the Federation with more on the horizon.

  6. “What needs to happen is a greater Fed regulatory and monetary control over States running essential services,”

    Yes and no. Under the old federalism, in some instances there was too much interference, regulation, red tape and the like. In many instances, the reporting requirements were simply too onerous, causing massive growth in State bureaucracies, necessary to meet accountability requirements, and at the expense of front-line services. Ironically, the growth in State bureaucracies was matched by a parallel growth at the federal level. The number of ‘watchers’ increased as the number of ‘watched’ increased.

    Under Rudd, the stress is on less ‘detail’, fewer KPIs, but a greater emphasis on ‘outcomes’. This ‘new federalism’ has much more maturity about it than the political point scoring of the past. This does not mean of course, that political point scoring won’t happen from time-to-time. Politicians under stress will always blame the ‘other’.

    Rudd will not want to ‘take over’ Health’ for at least two reasons. First, the Feds lack the administrative structure and management expertise. (The redundancy pay-outs, to cite just one example, would be enormous). Second, there is never any votes in Health. Dying is inevitable, but it is ALWAYS the case that more could have been done.

  7. Health

    He said Labor had a long-term plan to fix the hospital system and he would personally administer it. “The buck stops with me”, he said.


    Indeed it will.

  8. You mean we now have a Prime Minister who takes responsibility? How refreshing. With Howard all we ever got was ‘I wasn’t told’

    While the ‘buck stops with me quote’ was specific to ‘health’, it has now been universalised to include all responsibilities.

    BTW, it is an expression used by Obama – perhaps he pinched it from Rudd or maybe Harry S Truman.

  9. And it doesn’t help when you have situations such as these. Surprisingly from the ‘graph. http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,24863668-5006009,00.html Robbing sick as birth fees rise..OBSTETRICIANS are getting more than half the $319 million meant to go to chronically ill patients…

  10. Why do we have to continue reading the same story week in and week out, month after month and year after year? The NSW state government is a fucking joke! Call an election, stat!

  11. Moderator…Moderator???

    Too busy talking about conquests on the open thread…LOL!

  12. 10. John McPhilbin

    Fully sympathise with the feeling of anger and frustration but forcing an unconstitutional early election would be worse than the cure it won’t deliver, and the cure which is supposedly a more competent Coalition State government last week indicated it would be as bad, if not worse when in its party revamp it promised to substantially cut taxes across the board, greatly increase spending for just about everything, finish major expensive projects abandoned by the current government whilst starting some new even more expensive ones all whilst promising to deliver a surplus.

    What will actually happen when they are elected (something the people of NSW have already cottoned onto) is they will say they will being soon but “surprise surprise” things are much worse than they thought and because of the previous Labor government instead of delivering on all their expensive promises they will have to drastically slash and burn everything, increase taxes (but they won’t call them taxes but fees and charges) and curtail indefinitely all major development. And because they have to do it so hard and fix the mess by making everyone else suffer they will give themselves a substantial pay rise and the people of NSW should be grateful they are now at the helm.

    From that moment on the regular rehearsed excuses will swamp the media cycles and not a statement will go by without blaming Labor, whilst every now and again a government minister will be involved in some form of corruption or malfeasance.

    Welcome to the world of NSW State politics.

  13. Sorry missed a cut and paste:

    …they will say they will soon start all they promised but “surprise surprise”…

  14. Adrian@12 -shit! I keep forgetting the little part about the lack of opposition.

  15. …and with Labor in opposition you can say exactly the same thing. As I said welcome to NSW politics.

    The only hope is a Federal government that strictly ties State government performance to funding but in such a way it doesn’t punish the people by withholding funding. Howard wanted to go the punish the government punish the people who voted for them route, which is why he failed.

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