“This is not just an isolated issue in NSW,” Perrottet said. “We know other states are facing similar pressures, which is why we’re also working with Victoria to expand urgent care services in two states to help reduce the pressure on our emergency departments.”
States are opening up dozens of their own urgent care center Address this while also pushing the federal government for increased hospital funding and higher Medicare rebates to increase access to bulk billing GPs.
But health experts also warn that hospital staffing – the responsibility of state governments – remains a key part of the problem.
Australian Medical Association NSW president Dr Michael Bonin said there had been an ongoing tussle between the state and federal governments and there was a risk of mutual recrimination.
He agrees there has been a dramatic increase in triage 2 patients with urgent needs due to an aging population and that Medicare rebates have not kept pace with the cost of GP services. He also agrees that many patients with triage 4 and 5 do not require hospitalization and are better served in the community.
However, in about a third of cases, these non-urgent presentations took place after hours, when the GP was not available, Bonning said.
“As much as possible [the premier] One could argue that it has to do with general practice, and it also has to do with state funding to deal with the mix of cases that they have — getting worse and more frequent in an aging population,” he said. Essentially, the national health system may have funded a lot of capital works, but [it] Not equipped with them.
“We agree there is more work to be done [in general practice]. However, the hospital system has more work to do. The answer is somewhere in the middle. “
Dr Clare Skinner, president of the Australian College of Emergency Medicine, said emergency departments were under increasing pressure, with the national demand for emergency care growing by 14 per cent in five years despite a population growth rate of just 5 per cent. Available hospital beds also fell by 4%.
“If you need to be hospitalized, you are more likely than ever to wait hours or days in hospital. [emergency departments] Because of a lack of hospital beds, or a lack of appropriate, accessible, community-based care,” she said.
“Over time, access to affordable, accessible, and comprehensive primary and community-based care can keep people healthy so they don’t become so unwell that they go to the emergency room.”
Skinner welcomed any government policy to improve access to GPs and primary care. However, she said there would always be an overlap between primary care and emergency departments and that the pressure on emergency departments was “manyfold”.
“Health care staffing shortages are one of the biggest problems facing emergency departments … most emergency departments are consistently understaffed. There are clear gaps in care, especially advanced care,” she said.
A spokesman for Perrottet’s office said the state government had allocated $4.5 billion in its latest budget to recruit 10,000 new health workers over the next four years.
Health Secretary Mark Butler said the federal government’s Strengthening Medicare Task Force is identifying the best way to increase affordability and improve access through a $750 million fund.
“The previous government froze Medicare tax rebates for six years, squeezed billions out of primary care and caused spread costs to skyrocket. The Albanese government is committed to investing in general practice and strengthening Medicare,” he said.
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