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Federal Labor to tackle waiting lists for patients and demand tougher accountability on elective surgery.

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Federal Labor To Tackle Waiting Lists For Patients And Demand Tougher Accountability On Elective Surgery Media Statement - 31st October 2007

A Rudd Labor Government will introduce a new national public hospital report card system - covering elective surgery waiting times - as part of its $600 million investment to tackle elective surgery waiting lists.

Federal Labor will invest an additional $600 million - over four years - to dramatically reduce waiting times for elective surgery such as hip and knee replacements in Australia’s public hospitals.

This is about ending the buck passing so that people who need surgery get it sooner.

Federal Labor’s Elective Surgery Plan will be a new approach to reducing elective surgery waiting lists and times. Patients will be able to move between nearby hospitals with shorter waiting times. Each State and Territory will be required to

inform patients where waiting times are shorter. This information will be available online.

Public hospitals will also be able to purchase additional capacity from private hospitals.

A Rudd Labor Government will require States and Territories to adhere to strict reporting on their performance in return for funding. State and Territory Governments will also be required to achieve year on year reductions in waiting times, hospital by hospital.

Reporting on elective surgery waiting times will bring a renewed focus on the performance of our public hospitals by introducing a new level of accountability for the benefit of Australian patients. The $600 million investment includes:

z $100 million to conduct an i m mediate national blitz on elective surgery

waiting lists - to help clear the backlog of people who have been waiting longer than the recommended ti me for surgery such as knee, hip and eye operations; z $200 million over two years to make systemic improvements to Australia’s

hospital system to improve elective surgery output in the long-term; and z $300 million in dividend payments to reward those States and Territories that

complete all elective surgery within the clinically reco m mended ti me by the

Kevin Rudd Nicola Roxon

end of Federal Labor’s four year plan.

Federal Labor’s dedicated funding to tackle waiting lists will mean that the States and Territories can increase and improve the performance within public hospitals or purchase additional capacity from private hospitals. In order to receive funding under Federal Labor’s Elective Surgery Plan, States and Territories will be required to:

z Develop systems for managing elective surgery waiting lists on a coordinated

regional basis, to enable patients to move between hospitals to take advantage of available capacity for timely treatment at nearby facilities; and z Agree to strict elective surgery performance reporting requirements, including

the publication of elective surgery throughput and waiting time data by hospital - a hospital report card on elective surgery waiting lists.

In 2005-06, 19 per cent of public patients requiring elective surgery were not seen within the recommended time. This has almost doubled from 10 per cent in 1998-99.[1]

This decline in performance on elective surgery corresponds with the decline in the share of Commonwealth funding of public hospitals under the Howard Government, from 47 percent in 2000-01 to 41 per cent in 2005-06. See Figure 1 below.

There are also considerable variations between states and territories on elective surgery performance. The following chart shows variations between states and territories in the proportion of elective surgery completed within the clinically recommended time.

Federal Labor is prepared to do its bit to improve elective surgery performance in our public hospitals, but we will demand higher standards of accountability and transparency from State and Territory governments in exchange for additional funding.

Reducing the number of people who wait too long for elective surgery is one of the reform targets included in Federal Labor's $2.5 billion National Health and Hospitals Reform Plan to fix our hospitals and improve health services for the community.

Only Federal Labor has a plan to help turn around the health system and give people treatment that they need when they need it.

Authorised by Tim Gartrell, 161 London Circuit, Canberra City, ACT 2600