Save Bulli ED Group
Media release : 13 July 2012 Bulli ED 2012/#5
Residents will today present an innovative proposal to help save Illawarra and other community hospital emergency departments from downgrades and closures.
Members of the Save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department Group (Save Bulli ED Group) believe the federal government should use the windfall gained from reduced tax concessions for private health insurance to fund staff for smaller hospital emergency departments.
Their proposal, addressed to Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, will be handed over to the Hon Sharon Bird at her 74 Crown Street office (Wollongong) at 10:30 am on Friday 13 July to be conveyed to the federal government.
“Earlier this year, Tanya Plibersek announced that savings made from cutting private health tax subsidies could pay the salaries of an extra ’13,000 extra doctors or 26,500 nurses’. We think that’s an excellent idea – and we know exactly where to put them. We say, put those thousands of doctors and nurses into hospital emergency departments now under threat of closure in the Illawarra and across Australia,” Alison Fettell, convenor of Save Bulli ED, said today.
“One of the incredible pressures on smaller hospitals like Bulli is the Commonwealth flat-fee funding model. A compensatory scheme to support our small hospitals emergency departments to keep operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week would be an absolute boon.”
The federal ‘activity-based funding’ model gives health dollars to states based on a flat fee for each recognised activity. Big hospitals with a large volume of procedures are then favoured by state bureaucrats as they can (in theory) do things cheaper on a per-case basis. The closure and downgrading of smaller hospital is happening across the state, despite a promise by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in March 2010 that:
“There is absolutely nothing in the national hospital and health network plan that I announced yesterday that would result in the closure of any hospital anywhere.”http://pmrudd.archive.dpmc.gov.au/node/6544.html
“Basically, we’re being sold down the river, along with dozens of other smaller hospitals,” said Alison. “The federal government is starving us of funds and the state government is running hospitals down to save money. How do they do it? Equipment gets moved to other hospitals. Services get whittled away. A doctor leaves, and they fail to make a serious effort to recruit a replacement. Then they go, ‘Oh, it’s not viable, let’s close it’. Bulli used to be a thriving, busy hospital. Now, we’re at the tipping point. We have one last chance to save the Emergency Department from closure. It’s time to act before it’s too late.” Local supporters of Bulli Hospital had expressed their disappointment last month in the lack of funding in the state budget to upgrade Bulli Emergency Department. Their new appeal to the federal government will resonate with many other communities threatened by hospital closures and reduced emergency services.
The Save Bulli ED Group proposes:
- doctors and nurses to be recruited specifically to work ateach hospital emergency department, not rostered on from elsewhere
- emergency department equipment which has been secretly taken away from community hospitals and commandeered to central hospitals to be returned
- community hospital boards to be reestablished
- 24/7 emergency services to be maintained or reinstated at each hospital, including Bulli, Port Kembla and Kiama
- funding to be given to public hospital emergency departments, not urgent care centres
- ambulances to be allowed to take suitable patients to Bulli, and the ambulance ‘Bypass Bulli’ order revoked.
Ms Alison Fettell, Convenor, ph 0412 011 052
Ms Caroline Colton, Co-convenor, ph 0419 609 173
For a list of NSW hospitals identified in 2010 as under potentially threat, many of which are indeed now facing downgrades or closures, see Simon Benson, “Is Your Hospital at Risk,” The Daily Telegragh, 5 March 2010 athttp://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/is-your-hospital-at-risk/story-e6freuy9-1225837122583