Federal Budget: Logan Hospital, Other Qld Public Hospitals Lose Massive Health Funding

Logan Hospital and other Qld public hospitals could see longer off-stretcher waiting times ahead as Queensland loses massive health funding in the 2022-23 Federal Budget even as the State Government made a prior appeal for a 50-50 public health funding split.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath expressed her disappointment over the latest federal budget which will see massive funding cuts for the state’s public hospitals. Ahead of the Federal Budget, the state government called for additional funding for Qld’s public health system, which is estimated to be around $1.5 billion a year. 

The appeal comes as Queenslanders turn to public hospitals due to a lack of bulk-billing GP services, particularly in areas where private health costs are rising. Additional funding would have meant more hospital beds, and frontline staff and services; Queensland, however, is not getting that commitment.

“If the budget delivered by Josh Frydenberg last night is remembered at all, it will be for the way that it failed Queensland,” the Health Minister said.

“Not only did Scott Morrison’s [government] ignore our appeal for a 50-50 health funding split, he will cut $21 million from our hospitals next financial year.

“The federal coalition is also cutting $176 million from Queensland hospitals in 2023‑24 and 2024‑25, compared to funding promised just four months ago.

“All the States and Territories, along with the Australian Medical Association, are calling for more Commonwealth funding for public hospitals, but the PM is ignoring these calls,” she said.

Queensland Ambulance Service data revealed an increase of 76 per cent in ambulance lost time in 2020-21
Queensland Ambulance Service data revealed an increase of 76 per cent in ambulance lost time in 2020-21
Photo Credit: Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) / Facebook

Queensland Health data from October to December 2021 showed that off-stretcher transfer within 30 minutes at Qld public hospitals was at 62 per cent; the state government aims to increase that rate to 90 per cent. Off-stretcher time, or ramping, refers to the time it takes before the paramedics and their patients could be allowed entry by the hospital’s ED.  

Statistics revealed that Logan Hospital recorded the longest waiting time of 480 minutes in October last year. However, over the last six months to January 2022, Gold Coast had the longest average off-stretch waiting time of 456 minutes.

Ramping greatly affects ambulance services. When paramedics are unable to offload their patients, they have no other option but to provide care until ED is able to accept the transfer. This means that other patients needing an ambulance to pick them up would also have to wait.

Data from Queensland Ambulance Service showed that in 2020-21, ambulance lost time figures (beyond the 30-minute target) for the top 26 Qld public hospitals indicate an increase of 76 per cent from 2019-20 or 111,697 hours from the previous 63,339 hours.

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick said that all that Queensland was asking was for a “fair partnership” to help address the growing need for health services but Qld got its budget cut instead. He added that losing federal funding for Queensland hospitals would mean that patients will have to ”wait longer for the health treatment they deserve.”