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Doctors call for 'urgent funding injection' as hospitals fail report card



Australia's hospitals need an "urgent funding injection" to relieve the "suffering and pain" being caused to patients, doctors say.

A new Australian Medical Association report found only three of Australia's 201 public hospitals had met targets, prompting calls for incentives for hospitals to do better.

The AMA said there was set to be a backlog of half a million people waiting for surgeries by June.

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It argued a cash boost plus funding reform involving 50-50 contributions from the Commonwealth and states and territories was "absolutely critical".

Federal president Steve Robson, who launched the report into the hospital "logjam", demanded a national long term plan for hospitals saying there had been "significant worsening" since last year's report.

The only hospitals which fully met the targets were Young in New South Wales and South Coast District and Riverland General in South Australia.

"We have nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers who are desperate to provide care for Australians, but they need the resourcing to do that," Robson said.

"They're also more than statistics.

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"They are human stories, and they're stories of suffering and pain of people waiting for care, waiting for urgent emergency department care, surgery and treatments around the country."

The performance data came from the AIHW MyHospitals information portal.

It included figures on emergency department and elective surgery performance.

Hospitals were given a "traffic light" rating according to the percentage of patients who started treatment within the recommended time for each urgency category.

Robson wants the crisis discussed at next week's National Cabinet meeting of state and territory leaders.

States are responsible for running hospitals and the federal government shares responsibility for paying for them.

How much they pay towards them isn't simple.

But the funding breakdown can be complicated as the cash injection is based on the number and type of patients treated, health economics expert professor Jane Hall writes in The Conversation.

But the growth in federal government expenditure has been limited to 6.5 per cent each year.

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The AMA wants that to change and says Australia's hospital system is "not fit for purpose".

It argued there wasn't enough funding to keep people out of hospital through preventative and community care and the funding didn't account for Australia's population growing, ageing and developing more complex health needs.

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The AMA wants to see cash for performance brought back, more beds and staff and better out-of-hospital alternatives to stop people ending up in hospital.

It wants an increase in Commonwealth funding plus the removal of the funding cap which in turn would both provide a $20 billion boost.

Aussies can check how their local hospital is doing in the report.

The AMA also wants patients to share their stories related to hospital waiting times on a website

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