Call For An Administrator To Be Appointed To The Bankrupt NSW Public Hospital System – 11 February 2000

The NSW public hospital system is technically bankrupt and should be placed in the hands of receivers, Executive Director of the Australian Doctors’ Fund, Mr Stephen Milgate said in Sydney today.

The latest evidence of the inability of the NSW public hospital system to meet its financial commitments is the walkout by six general surgeons from the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.

Mr Milgate said “The Newcastle walkout has been brought about by directives from the NSW Department of Health to six general surgeons to ‘go slow’ in order to meet budget targets.”

“An increased number of patient referrals for hepato-biliary and colo-rectal surgery has resulted in the general surgeons at John Hunter Hospital performing more operations. This has caused uproar from the health administrators who work in a climate of fear that tolerates no budget overruns and gives career brownie points to those who ration best.”

“These general surgeons who are at the peak of their careers are basically being told to stop work and let seriously ill patients chance their luck on a waiting list which has no end.”

“I have been told that patients needing hepato-biliary and colo-rectal surgery run an increased risk of mortality in some cases if they are not operated on as soon as possible after diagnosis.”

“Over recent months we have seen the NSW area health services failing to meet their financial obligations, demands for patients to be admitted only on the day of their operation, a decline in funding for autopsies, Christmas and Easter “closures” which go on for months on end, continuing cuts to hospital bed numbers and theatre time, as well as the abolishment of VMO and HMO positions to reduce the number of available doctors performing surgery.”

“When a business can’t meet its commitments the law requires a receiver to be appointed so that everyone affected can be confronted with the truth.”

“It’s time for a full public disclosure of the financial position of the NSW public hospital system and for the Premier to warn the public that despite being covered by Medicare there is no guaranteed access to surgery in a NSW public hospital. It’s every man, woman and child for themselves,” said Mr Milgate.