AMA President Dr Rosanna Capolingua today welcomed the Federal Government's recognition of the AMA's target of 3,750 new beds needed for public hospitals.
On the weekend the ABC reported "Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the extra funding will result in an extra 1-2 million patients being treated in emergency departments and could mean an additional 3, 750 beds in hospitals in 2008-09 and more in the following year."
"This was not evident or obvious in the COAG communiqué. The Prime Minister has recognized the need, and it is now essential that the States increase bed numbers in order to deliver real improvements in the public hospital system," Dr Capolingua said.
"While encouraged that recognition of the need for beds has finally occurred, the AMA remains skeptical that this agreement can deliver those beds - but we look forward to being convinced."
The AMA has argued for more than a year that 3,750 extra beds are needed in public hospitals across Australia.
"Emergency department funding on its own does not solve the need to admit patients into hospital beds. Patients end up on trolleys in corridors because there are no beds on the wards. This compromises the patients care and puts them at risk while they suffer pain, fear and distress," Dr Capolingua said.
"Our public hospital report card showed occupancy rates are nearly all over 90 percent, with some hospitals running at over 100 percent. The internationally recognised safe occupancy rate is 85 percent.
"If this agreement can deliver the funding required for the extra beds, occupancy rates will fall to safe levels, the pressure on emergency departments will be reduced, and patients will receive the high standard of care that they should receive in this country.
"This would be the best outcome our struggling public hospitals have seen in a generation.
"The AMA is now calling for accurate quarterly reporting on bed numbers and occupancy rates over the next 18 months to track progress and ensure the community is properly informed."