AMA calls for single body on funding

HEALTH reform needs to start at the top, with the establishment of a single body to administer state and federal hospital funds, Australian Medical Association president John Davis has said.

Dr Davis's comments come a day after health policy analyst Martyn Goddard released a damning report on Tasmania's elective surgery waiting times, which said that Tasmania had the longest elective surgery wait times in the country by a ``huge margin''.

Mr Goddard said that recent $88 million budget cuts, coupled with attitudes of people within the health system and ``government policies that have failed for decades and have been allowed to keep on failing,'' meant that 9.4 per cent of Tasmanians had waited more than 12 months for their surgery.

Nationally, just 2.7 per cent of patients had waited that long.

Mr Goddard said the average surgery in Tasmania cost  20 per cent more than the national average.

Dr Davis said that health funding needed to be removed from state and federal ``silos'' and depoliticised so hospitals could figure out how to put it to best use.

``The problem that we have got is the system is broken, it's broken at its core,'' he said.

Health Minister Michelle O'Byre said the government was working to reform the system, pointing to a review being conducted by the Tasmaniana Lead Clinicians Group and the Commission on Health Services Delivery in Tasmania, set up as part of the $30.5 million federal funding package.

Ms O'Byrne said Tasmania had fewer economies of scale and a higher proportion of patients who were of a lower socio-economic background, elderly, and less healthy than in  other states, and that could contribute  to higher costs.

``But we also take very seriously the possibility that genuine inefficiency may   exist in our health system,'' she said.

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