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Minister says only more federal money will solve ramping crisis

Politics

The Queensland government says only a restructure of federal funding will help relieve pressure on the state’s health system.

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Queensland Health has been grappling with a spike in ambulance ramping amid surging demand for beds for a number of months.

Ramping is when patients are treated in ambulances on hospital driveways until beds become available.

More than 1.39 million people presented at hospital emergency departments between July 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, an 11.6 per cent increase over the previous period.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says population growth has been outstripping bed capacity and more people are dropping out of private health insurance.

She says to immediately alleviate pressure, the federal funding should be made available for home care for aged and disability patients.

“If the Commonwealth was to step in today and to provide packages for people who need aged care packages and disability packages, we would free up almost 600 beds, that is larger than my local hospital at Radcliffe, that is the size of our one of our biggest hospitals,” D’Ath told reporters on Tuesday.

“So almost 600 beds is very, very significant and could ease pressure immediately across our hospital system.”

She has put her proposal for a restructure of Commonwealth funding for aged and disability care on the agenda of the next Health Council meeting on Fridaty.

The health minister said the government was also committed to increasing the number of health workers by almost 10,000 by the end of 2024.

D’Ath said over the longer term dealing with a shortage of GPs in regional Queensland and bulk billing will also alleviate pressure on the system.

“We need to reform the way we fund health and hospitals because it’s based, based on a weighted unit – the more you do, the more you get paid,” she said.

“So if you actually set up systems to divert people away from the hospital system, you don’t get the funding for it.

“So we need to have a genuine conversation at all levels to talk about the funding model, and also just the model, the way we deliver care.”

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