Cuts to cripple health: analyst

INDEPENDENT health analyst Martyn Goddard says the federal budget will have a ``crippling'' effect on Tasmanian patients, hospitals and the state's health budget.

The Commonwealth will cut almost $1.8 billion in funding to Australia's public hospitals over the next four years, in a move that could see Tasmania's waiting lists for surgery and treatment grow.

Mr Goddard said the federal government was offloading costs to the states by scrapping health reforms introduced by former prime minister Kevin Rudd in 2011.

And he said Tasmania would be particularly hard hit.

Grattan Institute director of health Stephen Duckett said that under the 2011 reforms, the Commonwealth would start funding 45 per cent of the cost of public hospital growth in six weeks' time, and increase that share of funding to 50 per cent in 2017.

Instead, Dr Duckett said the Commonwealth from 2017 would only increase funding in line with population growth.

``The Commonwealth is no longer exposed to any of the costs of growth in hospital activity,'' Dr Duckett said.

While population growth is poor in Tasmania, demand on Tasmanian hospitals is rising faster than anywhere else in the country.

Launceston General Hospital last year had 44,723 emergency department presentations, a figure up 3.6 per cent from 2012 and 21.6 per cent from 2008.

Dr Duckett said states would either have to improve efficiency, seek a GST increase, or put up with increased waiting times for hospital services.

Mr Goddard said Tasmania's state budget would ``suffer immensely'' under the changes to federal funding as well as the introduction of the GP co-payment.

``All of these things will disproportionately hit Tasmania, because we have a sicker, poorer society, we will be more likely to avoid going to the doctor because of costs than other Australians, and when we get sick we will be much more reliant on public hospitals,'' Mr Goddard said.

jstephens@examiner.com.au or twitter @jodiestephens1 

Martyn Goddard

Martyn Goddard

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