Report into Access Block recommends NSW Government abolish wage cap

ASMOF has welcomed the findings of the Report of the Inquiry into Ambulance Ramping and Access Block in hospital emergency departments in New South Wales, particularly around increasing  hospital capacity and improving work conditions for our members. 

In September ASMOF submitted recommendations to the inquiry, with eight priority solutions to access block for the state government to action;  

  • Increase inpatient bed capacity 

  • Improve medical staff working conditions through Award upgrades 

  • Monitor and address work health and safety concerns in Emergency Departments 

  • Increase availability of hospital outreach programs 

  • Consistent admission and discharge protocols across NSW 

  • Equitable access to outpatient clinics 

  • Better access to high quality aged and disability care 

  • Improve transport and pharmacy options for patients awaiting discharge 

We were pleased to see that the Portfolio Committee (No.2 Health) has acknowledged the harm of the state governments public-sector wage-cap, finding that :

'New South Wales is losing staff to other States/Territories offering better pay and working conditions. The committee has therefore recommended that the Government abolish the wage cap on state sector employees, including junior doctors, paramedics, nurses, midwives, and other healthcare staff. This is the best way of delivering fair wages, productivity growth and improved public services for all citizens across New South Wales” 

Other Recommendations from the inquiry relating to ASMOF’s eight priority solutions include that:

  • the NSW Government commit to provide funding to increase the number of staffed beds in public hospitals, with a goal of reducing patient occupancy to 90% initially, and 85% thereafter.
  • the NSW Government work with hospitals to develop interim solutions on a hospital-by hospital basis to assist with ambulance ramping, emergency department overcrowding and access block, to provide short-term relief while long-term solutions are being implemented. 
  • That the NSW Government continue to engage with the Commonwealth Government at a ministerial level on out of hospital care alternatives to improve patient flow, including access to GP services, and admission and discharge of aged care residents and NDIS participants. 
  • That the public hospital system improves transport and pharmacy options for patients awaiting discharge 
  • That the NSW Government provide funding to increase the number of public hospital pharmacists so that their availability better matches the operating hours of emergency departments. 

To read more all the recommendations, see: Impact of ambulance ramping and access block on the operation of hospital emergency departments in New South Wales 

Ahead of the 2023 State Election, we hope that all parties and candidates will urgently prioritise these much-needed health system reforms.