Red News Readers,
So it I read this story correctly, the overall number on the waiting list has increased, but the length of times they are waiting has decreased. And the Liberals seem to be saying there should be no adjustment of the Medicare threshold from $50,000 to $100,000. So that means those on middle to low incomes should be penalised for not taking out private insurance, and that the Howard Government were wrong when they set the thresholds 10 years ago? Is that what the Liberals are saying? If they are, they are saying that those on middle to low incomes should financially support the private health system by paying the Medicare levy, when these people are already supporting it through the taxpayer billions that are subsidising the private health insurance industry and private hospital services.
Natasha Wallace Health Reporter, smh
May 13, 2008
THE number of patients waiting for surgery at NSW hospitals has climbed to nearly 59,000, or about 55 extra people each week since Reba Meagher became Health Minister just over a year ago, the Opposition says.
"Under Reba Meagher's watch, there are now more people waiting for surgery in NSW than at any other time during the last three years," the Opposition health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, said yesterday.
The waiting list would increase further if the Federal Government doubled the Medicare levy surcharge threshold, which applied to taxpayers who did not have private health insurance, because at least 140,000 patients would flood the NSW public system, she said.
Ms Skinner called on the State Government to ensure NSW received more funding for its hospitals to cope with the expected rise in demand. Already overstretched doctors and nurses would come under more pressure from 140,000 extra patients.
Ms Meagher said the numbers waiting for surgery would "naturally rise as the population grows and ages, and the demand for medical services increases".
The Opposition had "missed the point", she said, citing a drop in how long patients waited for surgery from an average of 3.6 months in June 2005 to 2.8 months in March this year.
She said the number of patients waiting more than a year for elective surgery had dropped from more than 10,000 to 255 in March and those waiting more than 30 days for urgent surgery had decreased from more than 5000 in 2005 to 102. "What matters is that people who need elective surgery have their procedure within the clinically recommended time frame, and that is what is happening," she said.
The Opposition says the hospital waiting list dropped from 58,461 in March 2006 to 51,779 in December 2006, the last reported figures before the state election. The figure then jumped to 55,972 in March last year, and was 58,839 a year later, it says.
The Federal Government announced in January it would spend $150 million on cutting elective surgery waiting lists, of which NSW would receive $43.3 million.