Senator for NSW, Ms Deborah O’Neill, told the Senate that the Federal Government’s “three-and-a-half year freeze on doctors’ rebates” had led to severe pressure on Gosford Hospital.
According to the Bureau of Health Information’s (BHI) latest report, 43 per cent of patients who presented at Gosford Hospital’s emergency department were in what is known as the “triage four and five” categories, meaning that they had “small cuts, earaches and abrasions.
“These are ailments that can be treated by a GP,” Sen O’Neill told the Senate.
“However, low levels of bulk billing by GPs brought on by the Liberals’ Medicare freeze, mean that patients are forced to resort to visiting the emergency department,” she said.
The BHI figures show that 31.5 per cent of Gosford Hospital patients waited longer than four hours in the emergency department, where four hours represents the national benchmark for waiting time in the ED.
There are more than 2,022 patients waiting for elective surgery at Gosford Hospital, with the median wait for non-urgent elective surgery at 278 days, and one in 10 patients waited 364 days, almost a year.
“That is a situation that is only going to get worse under this Liberal Government’s attack on Medicare through the freeze to the rebate for GPs,” Senator O’Neill said.
“The knock-on pressure that the Liberals’ GP rebate freeze is putting on hospitals is writ large in the alarming Bureau of Health Information figures.
“Australia’s universal healthcare, our Medicare, is not negotiable.
“Medicare is not something to be cut, picked apart or traded away as a budget-saving measure.
“Labor believes you don’t cut healthcare to save the budget bottom line.”
Mar 22, 2017
Rhys Zorro, office of Deborah O’Neill