Australia’s public hospitals are in “crisis” with fewer beds for the elderly and blown-out waiting times in emergency departments, the nation’s top doctors say.
A new report from the Australian Medical Association has found there were fewer than 15 beds for every 1000 people aged 65 and over in 2019-20, down from 30 in 1992-93.
Along with a reduction in available beds, the time taken to receive care is also causing concern.
More than one in three Australians waited more than the recommended 30 minutes for urgent care in emergency departments in 2020-21
Patients were also spending longer in emergency departments, with about 65 per cent discharged in less than four hours in 2020-21, a steady decline from about 73 per cent in 2014-15.
One in three ‘category two’ elective surgery patients, which includes people waiting for heart operations, faced delays of more than the advised 90 days in 2020-21, a performance drop of 17 per cent since 2016-17.
Wait times also blew out for orthopaedic surgeries and knee replacements over the same period.
The AMA wants a return of funding for hospitals based off improved performance and boosted numbers of beds and staff.
It is also calling for the federal government to lift a funding contribution of 50 per cent it shares with the states.
“Australia’s public hospitals are in crisis,” national AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said in the report.
“If we want to save our public hospital system, we must act now.”