Investing for a Healthy Future

03-May-2018


On Wednesday 2 May 2018, at Parliament House, the McKell Institute launched its’ report into Keeping NSW in a Healthy State – Investing for a Healthy Future (please find it attached below). It was a fantastic night, held in the beautiful Jubilee Room, with over 100 guests including politicians from various parties, academics, health professionals, members and union officials.

Vice President of ASMOF Dr Choong-Siew Yong and ASMOF member Dr Maura McCambridge, Chair of the Medical Staff Council of Maitland, appeared on the panel to discuss their concerns regarding the lack of appropriate public funding in NSW.

One of the key topics was ensuring that regional hospitals continue to have appropriate funding to promote the training and education of young doctors in those communities. In addition, Dr Yong identified the significant increase in the workload of staff specialists when support staff positions are cut due to the lack of appropriate funding in those departments.

The authors of the report, Drs Ben-Spies Butcher and Bob Davidson from Macquarie University, explained their findings to the audience. Their research identified the requisite amount of public funding required to keep pace with the current trends in NSW. By 2030, the government needs to commit to an annual health budget of at least $3.6 billion. In the short term, the state government should commit to increase public health spending by at least 3.8% p.a. in real terms; bringing annual health spending to $30billion in 2021/22.

Their paper identified the following recommendations:

  • The NSW Government should commit to providing the funding and other resources at least at the levels indicated by its own projections on the basis of current trends and policies. This involves committing to a real increases in expenditure of at least $14.3B (2017 prices) and an additional 40,000 FTE positions by 2030.
  • The NSW Government should also identify where current services can be enhanced such that NSW is able to move towards a healthcare system that is international best practice across the board by 2030.
  • The NSW Government should make increased health spending the foundation of a regional employment and development package to support equitable and balanced growth across NSW.
  • In developing the basis for funding the future growth of the NSW healthcare system, the NSW and Commonwealth Governments need to:
    1. ensure that the state’s ability to convert the potential tax base into public revenues remains resilient by ensuring revenue measures (both at state and federal levels) are responsive to changes in the economic environment over time; and
    2. commit to ensure additional funding for healthcare is equitably raised based on people’s ability to pay and not through increases in user charges.

For ASMOF, there is no question that we need to increase the funding of our public hospitals to meet the demands of the future. This report clearly identifies the burdens that NSW will face over the coming decades.

However, we must recognise the potential pitfalls in the way that we approach it. Privatising on the basis that a private operator will value-add to the funding the Government provides is misleading and dangerous.

Our experience is that the private operator will seek to employ doctors on a contractual basis, as they will not have to bear the costs of paying for time spent on training, education, research and quality improvement. This will undermine our entire public health system and put at risk the patients in the communities who rely on the care of our doctors.

ASMOF and our members will continue to take the fight to the NSW Government to ensure appropriate public funding and the training of our junior doctors, and we look forward to your continued support in defending our great public health system.

If you would like to speak up and get involved in a similar way, please email damienl@asmof.org.au, or call the ASMOF Office on 9212 6900.