Health budget underwhelming response to a system in crisis

The uninspiring, lucky and lazy State Budget is a desperate game of catch up from a Labor Government that has missed an opportunity to address the crisis facing our health system, according to Shadow Minister for Health Libby Mettam.
“To say it is underwhelming, would be an understatement, it fails to even try to address the fact that patients’ lives are being put at risk every day due to this government’s apparent lack of urgency in fixing the mess it created,” Ms Mettam said.
Ms Mettam said while the increased capital expenditure in this year’s budget would help address bed shortages, cutting the operational budget was perplexing.
“We are again seeing a health budget which is not keeping up with growth and ignoring a health system which is struggling to cope without any COVID in the community.
“While there was a moderate increase in expenditure of just 1.4% this year, there is a 2% cut in operational expenditure in 2022-23, against health demand of over 3% each year.
“There’s all this talk about magically recruiting hundreds of doctors and nurses across our closed borders but how are they actually proposing to pay for them if they are cutting the budget next year?
“There was an expectation among healthcare workers that this record surplus would be reinvested to try and fix the health crisis.
“But instead, we are actually going backwards with cuts to the budget from next year from a Labor Government that clearly has its head in the sand about the magnitude of the health crisis we are currently experiencing.
“When a State Government is sitting on a record mound of cash, West Australians have every right to expect key services will be performing well, which is clearly not the case.”
Ms Mettam said the lacklustre budget was particularly galling in a week when hundreds of patients had their elective surgeries cancelled and three major metropolitan hospitals all called Code Yellows due to a lack of beds.
“We have had our worst month of ambulance ramping on record in August and are on track to match it again this month which has resulted in ambulance response times plummeting to the point where 1 in 4 emergency calls are not responded to within the 15-minute target.
“This at a time when the Health Minister claims the health system is ‘outstanding’ and performing ‘magnificently’”.
“The Health Minister and the Treasurer are so focussed on posting surpluses that they’ve lost touch with reality.
“These are more than numbers on a page. These are people’s lives and at a time when there is no COVID in the community and our finances are healthy, there is absolutely no excuse for patients to have elective surgeries delayed or hospitals to be forced to turn patients away due to a lack of capacity.
“It’s appalling and we, as West Australians, deserve better.”