Nambour Hospital.
Nambour Hospital.

Hospital plan 'to cut bureaucrats'

THE Federal Government has denied its $30 billion takeover of hospitals will create more bureaucracy, saying it would mean more doctors and nurses - and less bureaucrats.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the plan would also include preventative health measures to reduce the demand on our hospitals in the long term.

Mr Rudd hopes to fix the ailing health system by stripping $50 billion of GST revenues from the states to invest directly into the health system.

That will come on top of $40 billion in federal funding from GST already set aside for health over the next five years.

Local Hospital Networks will be established across the country and paid directly by the Federal Government for each public hospital service they provide.

The networks will be made up of a small group of hospitals that will work together to provide a range of hospital services and manage their own budgets.

Local Hospital Networks - comprised of between one and four hospitals, with regional networks potentially including more small hospitals - will be responsible for the running of public hospital services.

In capital cities, the networks will be built around large tertiary or specialist hospitals. In regional and remote areas, networks will be built around large regional hospitals.

Mr Rudd said the government would pay local hospital networks directly for each public hospital service they provide, rather than just hand over block funding grants to the states.

An independent umpire will set the "price" for different hospital services.

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This reform will provide an incentive for hospitals to minimise waste and deliver services as efficiently as possible.

Doctors and nurses will also have more of a say in hospital decision making through the establishment of clinical senates and representation in the Local Hospital Networks' management structures.

Mr Rudd said many hospital staff and communities felt that they did not have the opportunity to drive change.

"There will be no net increase in bureaucracy under this reform - because as a condition of the funding any increase in the number of local staff working at Local Hospital Networks must be matched by a reduction in head office staff numbers in health departments and regional bureaucracies,'' he said.

The State Opposition has already condemned the plan, saying it won't fix our health problems.

State Opposition and LNP Leader John-Paul Langbroek said while the LNP would study today’s announcement in detail, it was clear the Prime Minister had no faith in the Bligh Labor Government's ability to manage the health system.

“Kevin Rudd’s announcement is an embarrassing vote of no confidence in the Bligh Labor Government and other State Labor Governments throughout Australia,” he said.

“However, the answer to fixing our health system isn’t handballing it from State Labor to Federal Labor – the answer lies in changing the Government.”

LNP Shadow Health Minister Mark McArdle said he was sceptical about Mr Rudd’s announcement of ‘local hospital networks’.

“This is the same man who presided over the abolition of local hospital boards under the Goss Labor Government and the creation of a massive new health bureaucracy in Queensland,” he said.

“It now appears Mr Rudd wants to take money from State Governments to duplicate that bureaucracy in Canberra.

“The Rudd Labor Government couldn’t even ensure a roof insulation program was run safely, how can we trust them to fix the health system?”

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