Beds gone, waiting list too long in Australian hospitals

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Sydney, Oct 25 (UNI) The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has given a scathing assessment of the country's public hospitals in its annual report card.

The capacity of Australia's public hospitals has been slashed by 60 per cent over the past 20 years, partly due to growth in the private sector and advances in medical technology that allow shorter hospital stays, the AMA said in its Public Hospital Report Card 2007 released today.

According to the AMA too many hospital beds have gone and that has led to dangerously full wards where patient care could be compromised.

More than a third of emergency department patients are not seen within the recommended times and patients who need elective surgery are also waiting too long, it said.

The Association said both state and federal governments are to blame for the problems in public hospitals, and that ''patients are not fooled or impressed with the constant blame shifting between the two levels of government''.

Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott admitted the public hospital system is under severe strain, but he said the main problem is poor management from state governments.

''We are spending 10 billion dollars more over the current health care agreement than was spent in the last health care agreement,'' he said.

''People can be very confident that a re-elected Howard Government is going to spend more. But it's not just money, it's also about better management,'' he said.

Releasing the report, AMA president Rosanna Capolingua, said ''Our hard-working doctors and nurses are being let down by a lack of proper funding and resources and poor management.'' UNI

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