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Health care savaged, despite growing needs

The Federal hospital funding system, based presently on growth in demand and costs, will change under the Abbott government. This "change" is actually about slashing and downgrading what each States receive, to make the system "more efficient".

This "change" is an $57 billion attack on our nation's health care system.

In two years, over $50 billion will be stripped from hospital funding. So despite Australia's population growing faster than any other developed nation, funding will be savaged and more people will be "cared for" with less!

The Abbott government is set to change the hospital funding system introduced by Labor, which was based on growth in demand and costs, with one that ties federal funding increases to inflation and population growth. So, under this "change", funding will be on a whim, and what's begrudgingly available, not on population growth or needs!

“On top of this, the Government scrapped the National Partnership Agreement funding to the States, which rewarded performance in meeting waiting time targets for emergency departments and elective surgery. The enormity of the ongoing cuts was starkly highlighted when the Treasury advised the Senate Economics Committee that Commonwealth funding for public hospitals from 2017-18 to 2024-25 would be reduced by $57 billion" says AMA President,AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler

Treasury figures show the commonwealth savings from cutting funding to the states for hospitals and schools will escalate rapidly, rising from $1bn in 2017-18 to $3bn in 2018-19 and $7bn the following year. By 2020-21, it will be $10bn. So, as our population continues to blow out, there will be more and more "savings" on hospitals and schools - a formula for a third world nation?

Australian Medical Association (AMA) said the system was not coping with the demands and warned the situation would worsen with less funding, and hospitals have already been hit by a $1.8 billion cut in last year's budget. The AMA has also warned of a possible ‘perfect storm’ in Australia’s public hospital system as Commonwealth funding shrinks, performance benchmarks are not being met, and prices for hospital services under activity-based funding decline.

Governments love, sponge off and delight in population growth, but they not only fail to maintain funding, it's being shrunk, piece by piece! Health care is not an optional extra, or a luxury that puts icing on the budget "cake", but something very basic that's part of our human welfare and an essential service! After more than 2 decades of "economic growth", ironically we are becoming more impoverished and worse off? Who actually benefits from this economic system? Clearly not the majority!

How can economic rationalism justify risking people's well-being, and even lives? How is our health care system to become "better", and provide more with less? It's unsustainable, cruel and potentially catastrophic.

Victoria's biggest hospitals each stand to lose out on more than $1 billion in federal funding over the next decade, according to a state government analysis. The State stands to lose $13.6 billion in funding, which according to Health Minister Jill Hennessy, was equivalent to losing 2.3 million elective surgeries or 11.6 million chemotherapy treatments. Of course, denying people surgery, and chemotherapy, will make the system more "efficient"! Nature will take its course, and people will suffer and die on the waiting lists, and thus eliminate excessive demands!

The massive shortfall in federal funding for hospitals will lead to even longer waiting times for elective surgery, prompting higher morbidity rates, with the smaller states and regional Australia worst hit. People's health care should be locked in, and set to increase incrementally with population growth- not be set as a political bargaining chip, and people made victims of poor economic management!

It's pure and cruel neo-liberalism - of caring for The Economy as the expense of the people it's meant to serve.

If Treasury is failing our present population with the provision of basic public service funding, how can it be trusted with the future, and expect the public to have confidence in the integrity of the latest Intergenerational Report?

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Ballarat health, Victoria, stands to lose $364 million in federal funding over the next 10 years, according to an analysis conducted by the state government. She said the result would mean longer waiting times for emergency treatments and elective surgeries in Ballarat.

"These cuts will be disastrous for the Victorian health system and have horrendous consequences for regional Victoria," Ms Hennessy said.

The federal government has maintained a change was needed to "deliver a more efficient hospital system into the future and it has outlined that hospital funding under the Abbott government continued to rise each year."

So, the implication is that our health care system is inefficient, and wasteful, and needs to be trimmed. On the contrary, numbers of patients have been exploding, and waiting lists blowing out, causing suffering and even deaths! They cut funding then claim it will "rise" each year?

Ballarat is regional Victoria’s leader in population growth, with new figures indicating the city grew by almost 2 per cent in a year. ABS revealed Ballarat was the top regional centre for annual growth in Victoria and New South Wales.

Our Federal and State governments all endorse high population growth, and that "immigration is good for the economy", but they not only fail to provide sufficient services and infrastructure for this heavy "growth" model, they end up slashing funds for something as basic as health care! How can more be done, with less?

Health care is not an optional extra, a luxury, but basic as a first world country, and to our well-being. After more than 2 decades of "economic growth", why are we getting poorer, and why is our economy failing? The basic needs of people are being compromised, and there should be outrage over these savage cuts to health.

The Courier: Health Cut Fear