The A/Federal Secretary of the ANMF, Annie Butler, said cost-cutting exercises, including the closure of hospital beds; freezing Medicare rebates, restricting the recruitment of graduate nurses and the scrapping of many vital preventative programs, had resulted in a blow-out in elective surgery and emergency waiting lists and ever-increasing out-of-pocket costs for consumers.
“We’ve been extremely concerned that ongoing cuts to public health funding have seen frontline nurses and midwives asked to do more and more, with fewer and fewer health resources. They are struggling with increasing workloads and are at risk of burn out as the constant drain on resources affects the quality of care they can deliver,” Ms Butler said.
“The ANMF has long-supported universal health care, believing that timely access to quality public healthcare is the right of every Australian, which is why we welcome the Opposition’s pledge to reverse the funding cuts to public hospitals which will help Australians to access care, when and where they need it.
“We maintain that a fair model of funding between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories is the best way to achieve this and ensure that consumers do not continue to bear an unfair proportion of their own healthcare costs.
“Currently, Australia suffers some of the highest out of pocket costs for everyday healthcare for any developed country in the world, with patients forced to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for a wide range of critical services as a result of the freeze on Medicare rebates with the fastest growth in fees being borne by people in regional and remote areas of the country.
“So we welcome the Opposition’s announcement of 20 new MRI facilities, 10 in public hospitals and 10 in other centres.
“As frontline health professionals, our members welcome the commitment to return resources, which have been slashed from consecutive public health budgets, to assist nurses and midwives deliver quality, timely care to people who need it the most.”
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