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Catholic Health welcomes Labor public hospitals commitment

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has expressed its support for the Australian Labor Party's move to place hospital Medicare firmly on the election agenda by promising an extra $998 million funding for the "already over-stretched public hospital and health system".

Speaking after the release of Labor's public hospital funding plan, CHA CEO Francis Sullivan said: "The Australian Government's latest report indicates that 1.3 million Australians waited too long to be seen by a doctor or a nurse last year in public hospital emergency departments. Labor's plan will help ease this pressure particularly if solutions to the aged care crisis are advanced."

"These days people face either a long wait or hefty specialist medical fees before qualifying for the Medicare safety net, prior to admission to a public hospital," he said. "Labor's plan to fund $414 million for affordable specialist care is a practical measure of fee relief consistent with the principles of Medicare and it is in the interests of average and low paid Australians foe this to attract the co-operation of the medical profession."

But Mr Sullivan urged Labor to be more mindful of those who need care that is not covered by bulk billing.

"Labor's policy is well directed but should not negate the necessity to keep a better targeted safety net for people who don't get bulk billed specialist care or still find their medical bills prohibitive."

Catholic Health Australia is also pleased that Labor has plans to supply more undergraduate and in-hospital training places for nurses and other professions. But it believes there is still a need for "innovative solutions for rural and regional Australians to access medical specialists services".

"Crucial to Labor's plan will be the obligation on the states and territories to increase their own funding and support use of the private sector to ease the pressure on the public hospitals."

Labor Recognises Public Hospital and Clinical Workforce Squeeze (Catholic Health Australia 22/9/04)

Labor's hospitals and better health care policy
$1bn second opinion (Daily Telegraph 23/9/04)
Health package wins support (Herald-Sun 23/9/04)
Labor's $1 billion hospital bonus (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 22/9/04)
Cash injection won't fix health crisis, doctors say (Sydney Morning Herald 23/9/04)
Catholic Health Australia

23 Sep 2004