‘Sobering’ report sees ACT hospitals trail behind the nation 

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Emergency wait times in the ACT, in comparison to the nation.

WHEN compared to the national average, the ACT’s hospitals are performing worse, on almost every indicator, than the rest of Australia, according to the “AMA Public Hospital Report Card 2020” released today (October 1).  

About 30 per cent of urgent emergency department patients in the ACT were seen within the recommended time of 30 minutes – that’s half of the national average, which is more than 60 per cent, the report shows.

Median waiting times for elective surgery in the ACT improved over the course of the year but the ACT performance continues to be worse than the national average and is in front of only the NT and Tasmania.

However, Australian Medical Association ACT president Dr Antonio Di Dio says elective surgery waiting list statistics are worse than the official data suggests.

“They do not include the time that patients wait to see an outpatient specialist before being added to the official waiting list,” Dr Dio says.

“If this additional waiting period were to be added, the statistics would be far more realistic, and more sobering.”

And, in the 10-year period finishing in the 2017/18 financial year, the average annual per person growth in public hospital funding, contributed by the ACT government, was 0.88 per cent per annum for the first five years, and -2.74 per cent per annum, for the rest of the decade.

Dr Di Dio is disappointed by these results, saying since he’s been president, three report cards have come out, all with the same result – “consistently poor performance from our ACT public hospitals.”

“For me, today’s release of the ‘AMA Public Hospital Report Card 2020’ is doubly disappointing because it was only last week AMA ACT and the RACGP released our ‘Key Health Issues for the 2020 ACT Election’, which highlighted public hospital funding as a major election issue,” he says.

“Within the week, our concerns have been shown to be all too real.”

Despite these results, Dr Di Dio says ACT medical workforce is committed, hard-working and provides excellent care. However, he says, that’s once people can access that care.

“In a time of covid, if the current ACT election has brought one thing home, it’s that we need to question what we used to regard as certainties and that includes taking a hard look at our ACT healthcare system,” he says.

“As our ‘Key Health Issues’ document said, it’s not just about funding, it’s about how we spend the money and particularly in the development of better models of care.

“In short, we need to make infrastructure investment to better integrate care and improve quality of care across the system. This will, in turn, help take the pressure off our EDs by ensuring that conditions that are better managed in the community do not have to be managed in  our EDs.

“Not only will we help our EDs, but even more importantly patient outcomes will be improved too.

“If there’s one thing that’s certain out of all of this, it’s that we need to get our public hospital funding sorted out and [we need to] work on better integration of care, before we even begin to think about spending $30 million on new walk-in centres.”

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  1. By leaving out the average time to see a specialist, these figures are not representative. In the ACT it is up to 4 years.

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