Doctors have warned of a perfect storm for patients seeking treatment for non-COVID conditions, if the federal government doesn't commit further funding for public hospitals.
The Australian Medical Association Public Hospital Report Card 2020 shows a national increase in the number of patients presenting to emergency departments and longer waiting lists for treatment.
Released Thursday, the report showed only Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia increased public hospital funding per person by 3-4 per cent on average each year over the past decade.
In Tasmania, only 56 per cent of urgent category 3 patients were seen within the recommended timefreame in 2018-19, compared to the national average of 63 per cent.
Emergency department visits completed in four hours or less was 62 per cent, and the medium wait time for elective surgery (2018-19) was 57 days - the second highest on record in the state since 2015.
AMA national president Dr Omar Khorshid said hospital staff continued to work under increased pressure with inadequate funding, as state governments struggle with backlogs caused by COVID-19.
"This report card shows that access to public hospital treatment in many jurisdictions is deteriorating, and waiting times are getting worse, even though public hospital staff continue to work hard to reduce patient length of stay, so beds can be used by the next patient," he said.
Tasmania president Dr Helen McArdle said the state's hospital system had been under growing pressure for years coping with an ageing population, increased rates chronic disease and tightening budgets.
"Spending in health has once again blown out to cover the increased costs of COVID preparedness and elective surgery lists have worsened with elective surgery virtually non-existent for some weeks," she said.
"During the lockdown phase of our COVID response, our emergency departments received some respite as people stopped attending.
"However, as restrictions have lifted, the old problems of ramping and overcrowding of our EDs have returned to the Royal Hobart Hospital and Launceston General Hospital."
While acknowledging the private sector was being used to work through elective surgery backlog, with more than 11,000 Tasmanians on a waiting list Dr McArdle said it would take time to resolve.
Bass Liberal MHR Bridget Archer said she was well aware of the continuing issues in Tasmania.
"I will be making representations to Minister Hunt during my upcoming time in Canberra regrading the concerns around the post-COVID 19 demand," she said.
A spokesperson for federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government provided significant funds to state and territory governments, with contributions under the National Health Reform Agreement growing from $13.3 billion in 2012-13 to $23.6 billion in 2020-21.
"The Australian Government provides significant funds to state and territory governments through the National Health Reform Agreement to assist states and territories with the costs of providing public hospital services.
"This funding is projected to continue to grow to $29.1 billion 2024-25," they said.
"Under the new NHRA, the Australian Government's funding contribution for public hospital services is estimated to increase from $99.9 billion between 2015-16 and 2019-20 to $131.4 billion between 2020 21 and 2024-25; an additional $31.4 billion over the five year agreement."
The federal government has also agreed to provide 50 per cent of funding under the partnership to support states and to deliver elective surgery, including where the elective surgery is delivered through the historic private hospitals agreements.
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