30 June 2009
The deadline has arrived – the delivery is missing.
Kevin Rudd’s promise to “fix” the nation’s hospitals today lies exposed as nothing more than a cynical ploy perpetrated for electoral popularity at the last election.
The Prime Minister’s self-imposed deadline to “fix” hospitals by mid-2009 has arrived, but missing is any evidence that he or his Government have honoured their promise.
“In fact the opposite is the case,” Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said today.
The latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that waiting times for elective surgery and waiting times in Emergency Departments are worse than ever and the horror stories continue to emerge from stressed hospital wards.
Recent Auditor-General reports in various states have cast serious doubts over the operation of the hospital systems.
“The Prime Minister, the Health Minister and the Government as a whole, have refused or more likely been unable to even provide any criteria they set to “fix” hospitals and therefore the community has no criteria to judge whether they have managed to make any difference at all.”
Mr Dutton said Mr Rudd should not be allowed to simply walk away from such a key promise – despite his record of trashing most commitments he made regarding health before the last election.
“This promise was central to Labor’s campaign on health and its cynical attempts to abrogate its commitment since then deserve intense scrutiny and exposure.”
Abandonment of the promise to “fix” hospitals would follow the dumping of “Grocery Watch”, “Fuel Watch”, a commitment to maintain private health insurance rebates untouched and the Medicare Safety Net.
During his campaign launch on 14 November 2007, Mr Rudd made three promises –
- That Labor had “put forward a national plan to end the buck passing” on health
- That he had “a long term plan to fix our nation’s hospitals”
- That “the buck will stop with me”
Earlier in 2007 in the Labor document – New Directions for Australian Health – and a joint Media Release, both Mr Rudd and Ms Roxon committed to takeover hospitals if the State and Territories had not begun implementing a national health reform plan by mid-2009.
Through until October 2008, the Prime Minister’s website maintained the pretence that he would “fix” the nation’s 750 hospitals.
However by December last year that had been watered down to “improving” the hospitals – and the “national reform plan” was now to be drawn up by the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission.
“It seems Mr Rudd didn’t have any plan at all, instead he’s waiting to be handed one today; which makes his promise to have “fixed” hospitals by today nothing more than sick spin.”
“Clearly he’s learned from his state counterparts who continue to hire spin doctors rather than real doctors to perpetuate lies that there’s nothing wrong with the hospitals they operate,” Mr Dutton said.
“Tell that to the family whose critically ill son could not be found an intensive care bed in Victoria last week or the North Queensland family whose elderly father had to share his hospital room with prison inmates shackled to neighbouring beds last month.”
“Is that how Kevin Rudd ‘fixes’ our hospitals?”
It would seem so given Health Minister Nicola Roxon’s statement on the Meet the Press program on May 3rd that the Government would now merely “assess” the hospitals this month.
Mr Dutton said both the Prime Minister and Health Minister stood condemned for their cynical manipulation of health issues for political purposes.