2 August 2011 Four years after Kevin Rudd first promised health ‘reform’ as a priority for his Labor Government, Julia Gillard has finally managed to get the States to sign off on a deal.
For the third time in 18 months Labor has claimed that that deal is an “historic reform”.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Julia Gillard has an agreement, but does she have any real ‘reform’ in health?
Chairman of the Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance Professor John Dwyer summed it up this way to the ABC today: “It is a reform package in a financing/accounting sense rather than a system sense.”
So instead of the sweeping national reform they were promised, Australians have ended up with a deal on dollars.
“Julia Gillard has capitulated and given the States billions of dollars to get them to sign an agreement that this desperate Prime Minister needs to look like she is actually achieving something,’ Shadow Minister for Health Peter Dutton said today.
And while more money might be flowing to the states, there were no guarantees of better health outcomes for patients.
“All of this promised improvement in healthcare delivery is in the never-never,” Mr Dutton said.
“Labor will have to win a third election in 2013 to possibly put any real changes for patients into effect in 2014 – something Kevin Rudd had promised to do by mid 2009.”
“It will be beyond a fourth election victory before its touted funding reforms are fulfilled.”
“Does anyone really believe that this incompetent Government will ever actually deliver? Julia Gillard said 2011 would be her year of delivery, but the agreement unveiled today makes clear that her year of delivery in health is 2014 – at the earliest!”
Mr Dutton said all that Julia Gillard had produced today was reams of paperwork on National Health Reform and superfluous spin – just like Kevin Rudd.
“Her comment that - ‘any suggestion concessions have been made (to the States) since February is just not right’ – was ludicrous,” Mr Dutton said.
In the last few months -
§ Guarantees on elective surgery waiting times and ED treatment times have become targets
§ Promised private hospital treatment has disappeared
§ Penalties for poor performance have been dropped
§ Rewards have become upfront payments
§ States have become gatekeepers for the much hyped National Performance Authority
Mr Dutton said Julia Gillard could not be believed. “Today she talks about more beds, more services, less waiting times – but we’ve heard it all before and know that it doesn’t get delivered.”
“Kevin Rudd claimed in 2008 that increased funding in health could support an additional 3,750 hospital beds in 2009-10 growing to 7,800 additional beds by 2012.
“The State of our Public Hospitals Report last year found there’d only been an increase of 11 – repeat 11 – beds across Australia.
“Then there was the $150 million elective surgery waiting list ‘blitz’ – but as newspaper after newspaper across Australia has reported – waiting lists and waiting times have increased.”
“Is it going to be any different this time around?”
The Shadow Minister said Ms Gillard had backflipped, backed down and traded off the Rudd proposals and her agreement was unrecognisable when compared to Labor’s promises.
“Kevin Rudd’s health reforms died on the way to COAG in February and were buried before this deal was finally signed,” Mr Dutton said.