Saturday, October 27, 2007


We have been hearing mostly about disasters in the NSW hospitals lately but the Qld. hospitals are still worthy contenders for the booby prize. Three current articles below.

Hospital expert gets sarcastic with Qld. State government

FORMER health commissioner Tony Morris, QC, has lampooned the Bligh Government's health reforms for setting up the boss of the besieged Princess Alexandra Hospital to fail. The attack came as Premier Anna Bligh yesterday refused to say whether the management at the Brisbane hospital was pressured to clear waiting list backlogs.

Mr Morris said senior doctors such as PA clinical chief executive David Theile still did not have enough funds to cope with huge workloads. The Courier-Mail reported this week that the PA's overspending by 2.1 per cent had actually achieved a 7.8 per cent increase in clinical services. The budget blowout in the first quarter, which was initially blamed on management, forced the closure of 60 beds and resulted in a 10 per cent cut in waiting lists.

Mr Morris headed the 2005 Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry, one of two inquiries that resulted in sweeping reforms including having doctors in charge of public hospitals instead of bureaucrats. "Theile's appointment has proved to be the complete disaster that the Charlotte St mandarins (at Queensland Health) would have predicted: A doctor (who) is likely to focus on trivia such as reducing waiting lists, increasing surgical throughput," Mr Morris said. "And while he is enmeshed in such trifles, who is going to concentrate on the really important issues, like whether or not . . . to send the administrative director to a conference in Acapulco? "Dr Theile was set up to fail. They put a man in charge who didn't have enough funding in the right area of clinical services."

His comments came as Ms Bligh refused to deny accusations from the Australian Medical Association that the Government pressured management to clear waiting lists more quickly without realising the extra costs involved. "I can only repeat what I have already said on this: The PA is one of our great hospitals," Ms Bligh said. "We're seeing some really terrific things happening at this hospital."

But Opposition health spokesman John-Paul Langbroek called for the Premier to immediately reopen all available hospital beds at the PA. "Hospitals are meant to treat sick people," Mr Langbroek said. "If the Bligh Government is going to make cuts to public hospitals they should focus on the non-patient areas." [i.e. the bureaucracy]


Major Queensland hospital is "broke"

As time goes by the hospital's service gets worse and worse -- as the ever-growing cancer of bureaucracy strangles it. Money to pay clerks and "administrators" MUST be found. Their pay packets never miss a beat. Too bad about the patients who have insufficient doctors and nurses to see to them

A LACK of money has forced Princess Alexandra Hospital to turn away sick people for only the third time in more than half a century - and more waiting list cancellations are on the way. The eight-hour "bypass" at the major Brisbane public hospital on Wednesday night was on the agenda at a heated meeting between furious senior management last night.

Clinical chief executive officer David Theile was yesterday forced to cancel another 17 operating theatre waiting lists from next week, taking the total cut to 20 per cent of the hospital's roster with as many as six people on each list. About 30 of the 60 beds that were closed earlier this week are expected to reopen from the weekend. PA visiting medical officer Dr Ross Cartmill yesterday said the closure of the emergency department, linked to the cutbacks, was only the third time since 1956. The PA, one of the state's biggest public hospitals, normally handles overflow from other nearby hospitals. "We can't get patients into the beds because the beds just aren't there," Dr Cartmill said.

While Queensland Health has claimed demand has "diminished" this week, hospital sources say that is only relative to peak work levels at the weekend. Premier Anna Bligh has refused extra funding for the hospital, saying it should be able to manage on a record $33 million boost this year. The Courier-Mail reported this week that while the hospital was 2.1 per cent over budget for the first quarter, it had performed 7.8 per cent more work.

Dr Cartmill yesterday said the only meaning of a hospital being efficient and over budget was that it was underfunded. "We clinicians believe we should be service-orientated - not budget-driven," said Dr Cartmill, who is also the Queensland president of the Australian Medical Association.

Acting Health Minister Rod Welford denied the bypass was linked to the bed cutbacks, saying "it can happen regardless of cutbacks". "This was utterly exceptional circumstances (on the southside, with the Mater Hospital also on bypass) and the hospitals do co-operate so if they go bypass the people are moved to another hospital," Mr Welford said.

But the State Opposition is demanding the Bligh Government reach into to its budget surpluses and find some money. Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney called for extra financial support to stop the situation getting worse. "Closing beds in a hospital that has achieved that sort of result seems incomprehensible to me," Mr Seeney said. "It is an intolerable situation."


Crazy government hospital provision in all Australian States

With the unbelievable cutbacks in available beds, it is no wonder that waiting lists are so long. As the bureaucracy has ballooned, the number of available beds has drastically shrunk: Socialism at work. Quite insane.

PUBLIC hospitals throughout the country are failing to achieve essential performance standards, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says. AMA president Rosanna Capalingua, who will release a report card comparing the performance of public hospitals, says there has been a persistent deterioration in the ability of public hospitals to cope with demand.

"Their capacity has gone down," Dr Capalingua said on ABC radio today. "In fact, would you believe that we have a statistic that there are 67 per cent fewer beds in public hospitals across Australia compared to 20 years ago, remembering the increase in population and increase in age of population we've had in that time in Australia, for the increase in demand."

Dr Capalingua said all jurisdictions had serious problems. "Across the board, all states and territories failed to come up to the benchmarks and standards that we would expect public hospitals to deliver to the Australian public," she said. "In the Australian Healthcare Agreements, we need a top-up of $2 to $3 billion to start off with and then we need an indexation increase."


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