Tuesday 13 September 2011

Doctors demand more funds for Cairns hospital

Damon Guppy
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
© The Cairns Post

Public doctors are teaming up to pressure the State Government into overhauling the state's health funding model so Cairns Base Hospital receives the money it needs to operate effectively.

The Cairns Physicians Group, which represents 25 public sector specialists, says the city is being under-funded because of a rigid scale that finances hospitals according to a ranking.

The Government splits the state’s 10 main hospitals into two groups, allocating more funding to the top five.

Cairns Base Hospital is ranked No.6, meaning it falls out of the first-tier. Townsville is No.5 and receives about 30 per cent more funding than Cairns. Cairns Physicians Group spokesman Peter Boyd said Townsville’s hospital recorded just 10 per cent more activity than Cairns."The funding model is inequitable," Dr Boyd said."The fact that they’re drawing lines between Cairns and Townsville is arbitrary.

"There is no reason we shouldn’t be funded the same as them. The only things we don’t do are neurosurgery and cardiosurgery." But Health Minister Geoff Wilson said the Cairns Health District was funded according to the same model used for other regions.

"The district received a very generous budget increase of 20 per cent this financial year and continues to perform well when compared to national benchmarks for emergency department wait times," he said.

The Cairns Physician Group said it supported the cause of emergency department staff, who last week rallied and demanded the Government increase funding for their ward. "People are building up at the front door because we don’t have the resources or services to get them out the back door," Dr Boyd said.

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Have your say on the parlous state of funding to the Cairns Base Hospital. There are less beds now then there was when I was on the Hospital Board in 1985, indeed 85 less, while the population has increased by 50%. Middle management has taken up the space vacated by the reduction in beds. That is not good enough for a smart state. The buck stops with the Government. Cairns deserves better.

Ross Parisi

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