- On June 18, 2019
The NSW Government needs to ensure its funding in health promotes effective use of the money being invested, AMA (NSW) President, Dr Kean-Seng Lim, said.
“It’s good to see the State Government recognise the need for more capacity in the health system through its investment in thousands of new health workers, including 1,060 doctors.
“The Government says it is focussing on emergency medicine and psychiatry, which is certainly worthwhile in terms of addressing the supply side of care.
“But it comes back to something I’ve been saying for a long time and that is: if we keep doing things the same way, we’ll never fix the problems our health system faces.
“We need to make sure there is also an emphasis on preventative health and to support and enhance the care available in the community in order to lower demand for hospital services.
“A big part of the problem with our emergency departments being overcrowded is that people don’t have access to the care they need outside of hospital to best manage chronic conditions.
“Co-ordination of care between hospitals and community providers must be supported to achieve best outcomes for patients.
“For this reason, having new emergency doctors and psychiatrists based in hospitals will help with the symptom of the problem but not actually fix it,” Dr Lim said.
“To put things in perspective, one of the Premier’s priorities for 2019 is to ensure 81% of patients presenting at NSW emergency departments clear the ED in four hours or less.
“This is not a perfect measure by any means but it can be a good indication of demand, congestion, and a representative how sick the community a hospitals serves really is.
“After the first quarter performance reported on recently by the BHI, it would mean 92% of patients would need to clear the State’s EDs in four hours or less for the rest of the year.
“This is very unlikely to happen but it does highlight the need to reduce the pressure on our hospitals,” Dr Lim said.
“It’s good to see the Government continuing to encourage people to engage in healthy activities by planning for additional greenspace throughout Sydney, increasing the number of trees in the city, and encouraging use of public transport.
“A $50 weekly cap on Opal card spends and continued government investment in public transport are good incentives for people in Sydney to use it more.
“Providing free dental health check-ups for kids in western Sydney, the Mid North Coast, and the Central Coast is a welcome preventative measure.
“Expanding the Active Kids program from a single $100 voucher for children to participate in organised sport to two vouchers is also a positive move in terms of the Premier’s priorities on childhood obesity,” Dr Lim said.
“What the NSW Budget demonstrates is the need for better co-operation from the State and Federal Governments on health.
“We need a stronger focus on community-based care and it is difficult to place that responsibility entirely on the State, when the Federal Government has much greater control of primary care.
“However, in the absence of a strong commitment from the Commonwealth, we do need the State to either lobby for it on behalf of people in NSW or fill that vacuum itself.
“Unless we can successfully target both the demand and supply problems facing our hospitals, issues of overcrowding that plague both the patient and staff experience will not go away,” Dr Lim said.
Media contact: Lachlan Jones 0419 402 955