Perhaps one day ALL government hospitals wil be seen as a bad idea
Private hospital beds will be bought to slash waiting lists for public hospitals under a new ALP policy designed to shake up the health sector. The federal Opposition also plans to ease pressure on doctors by handing more of their roles to nurses and allied health professionals. Opposition Leader Kim Beazley will reveal his plans today in a speech to the Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Sydney. It will offer the first glimpse into a potential Beazley government's approach to health, starting with a strong repudiation of the Howard Government's long-running accusation that Labor is ideologically opposed to private sector involvement.
Mr Beazley will warn that cost-shifting and duplication are crippling the health system at a time of massive increases in demand for services. He will accuse the Government of squandering reform opportunities and promise to use the next commonwealth-state health agreement, which starts in 2008 and will run for five years, as a springboard for change. "We need to tap into the full potential of the private hospital sector," Mr Beazley says, in a speech obtained by The Australian last night. "Private hospitals are an invaluable national health resource and more needs to be done to integrate them with the public system."
Labor will also shake up medical training by paying private hospitals to provide clinical training for medical students and other specialist trainees. The proposal is designed to meet complaints that the Government has dramatically increased the size of university medical and nursing schools without extracting guarantees that state-run public hospitals would be able to provide hands-on training. "Integration and co-operation will define health care in the future," Mr Beazley will say. "All hospitals are in the health business. They have a vested interest in working together."
Mr Beazley will also promise stronger action to deal with medical workforce shortages by realigning roles of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, using a Productivity Commission recommendation as his template. Mr Beazley will frame his health policies in an economic context, arguing better health would lift workforce capacity. Labor sources said Mr Beazley's attempt to link social policy with economic policy would set a trend for his bid for victory in next year's election. They said Labor's defeat in the 2004 poll came because voters were convinced by the Government that Labor was not serious about the economy.
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