10 August, 2012
Health budgets under pressure around the world
Australian Health Ministers are facing considerable pressures coming onto their health system says Health Minister Tony Ryall.
Mr Ryall has just finished attending the Standing Council on Health with Australian State and Federal Health Ministers in Sydney.
‘In South Australia three independent reports into health finances - ordered after a $125 million blow out last year - recommend chopping 308 jobs and 114 beds from Adelaide hospitals and making budget cuts of $83 million per year,’ Mr Ryall says.
‘In Queensland it is reported they’re cutting $130 million out of Brisbane Hospital budgets.
‘I am advised Australia has an over - supply of medical and nursing graduates, many of whom will not find a job in the public health service this year.
‘This is largely driven by the global financial crisis, which in OECD countries has seen average annual real growth in health spending fall to zero per cent.
‘Countries including Norway, Ireland, Greece and Denmark, have cut their real health spending.
‘In Greece health services are in crisis; some pharmacies can’t provide patients with their medications because the Greek government cannot pay them and it’s reported the lead health provider in Greece hasn’t paid its doctors for at least four months.
‘Elsewhere in Europe, Italian patients are having to pay a bigger share of fees for tests and doctors’ visits and Spanish health professionals have had salary cuts of up to ten per cent.
‘In Denmark they’ve been forced to lay-off healthcare workers and in Great Britain the National Health Service has been ordered to make $30 billion in health care savings.
‘In contrast, despite the world’s worsening debt crisis that sits behind all these austerity measures, in New Zealand the National led Government has lifted health spending by around $2 billion over its four years.
‘In 2009/10, while other OECD countries were reducing health spending, New Zealand had a 3.4 per cent increase in real health spend, the third highest of 27 nations. As a result, New Zealand has risen to having the fifth equal highest spend on health as a proportion of its GDP.
‘But more importantly, we’re also getting greater value for our health dollar. More people are now getting the operations they need, patients have shorter waiting times for cancer treatment and acute treatment in EDs, we have bought in free after hours doctors’ visits for under six year olds, and we are at record highs for infant immunisation.
‘Despite tight times, the National Government is protecting and growing our public health service, no little achievement when many advanced nations are being forced to freeze or cut their health spending,’ says Mr Ryall.