Nurses and midwives will be forced to work longer and harder in crowded public hospitals if the Abbott Government adopts the punishing recommendations contained in the Commission of Audit (CoA), the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) warned today.
Thousands of low-paid aged care workers, already robbed of promised wage and work condition improvements, will also be impacted by “minimum wage benchmarking” of 44% of average earnings for years to come.
“With no mandated nurse to patient ratios, nurses are already run off their feet, working in overstretched hospital emergency departments (EDs),” ANMF Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas, said.
“Under the CoA, we’ll see EDs bursting with more and more ordinary Australians, families, the elderly and low income earners, not being able to afford the outrageously high $15 fee to see a doctor.
“If they do go to hospital to seek treatment, it will then be the frontline nurses who’ll be expected to administer a hospital tax, deciding who gets their healthcare and who doesn’t.
“Instead of providing care, nurses will be asking questions about a person’s financial status and filling out paperwork – a case of paperwork before patients. You can only imagine what this will do to triage waiting times.
“With a GP fee and a hospital tax, this is the end of universal healthcare under Medicare, with Australia heading toward a US-style user-pays system, where only those with their credit cards handy get the treatment they require.
“It’s easy to see that this was written by bankers and bureaucrats who put saving money before saving lives. If nurses and other clinical experts had been involved, they would have warned that this proposed two-tiered healthcare system will see more and more people avoiding medical treatment until they get sicker and sicker before finally needing expensive hospital treatment.
“The CoA was meant to ensure taxpayers receive value for their tax dollars and was expressly forbidden from touching concessions for wealthy superannuants and the fossil fuel industry, which currently cost the taxpayer $45 billion dollars per year. Instead, it has chosen to punish families, the aged, the disabled and the chronically ill. How can this possibly be value for our tax dollars? On behalf of our members, the ANMF is again calling on Mr Abbott to reject these recommendations, for the sake of all Australians.”
The ANMF, with over 233,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.