Raising the BARR – Week ending 30 September 2022

Raising the Barr


Every single day my office hears incredibly sad and frustrating stories from the community about their recent experience in a NSW hospital. It is simply unacceptable that it has come to this and we have every right to be angry about it: not angry with the staff who are doing their absolute best, but angry at the Government that have allowed it to come to this.

Australia has, for almost 40 years, had one of the best medical systems in the world. It was something that we could all be proud of, and many other countries would look on with great jealousy.

About 11 years ago a very important thing happened in the NSW funding of our Hospitals – they were faced with the challenge of an “efficiency dividend”. What this meant, in normal regular words, was that their budget would not increase at the same speed as the cost of providing the services was increasing. For example, it is widely recognised that the cost of providing health care increases, each year, at a rate of about 6.5% – 7%. So when your budget only increases by 5.1%, you are forced to make cuts, or, as the Government would prefer to say “find efficiencies” (as if there were a whole bunch of waste in the system).

When the health budget, year after year, gets an increase that is lower than the increase in real costs, things start to slide. Add to this that the 5.1% increase dropped to 4.5% increase and then down to 4% increase. Meanwhile, just to keep standards where they were, at least 6.5%-7% increase in budget was required. The cuts started cutting deeper and deeper.

While this was happening, 8 years ago, the Federal Government decided that they were going to cut back on their funding of health. The amount of funding passed from the Federal Government, across to State Governments, went off a cliff around 2014.

From 2014 onwards our hospitals have been faced with budget cuts through efficiency dividends and Federal funding cuts in simple straightforward dollars.

So here we are in 2022 and our entire hospital system seems to be on its knees. The staff have been working harder and harder and harder, every year, as cuts were made, to try to keep the standards up where they used to be.

Add to this mix of funding dollars going backwards, we have had massive population increases and COVID demands.

When you apply your mind and think of this very logically, it surely can’t be a surprise to anyone that our hospitals are struggling so much. I mean the real surprise would have been if they weren’t struggling!

So what we are seeing is a deliberate, calculated, known, attack on our health care system. Decision makers knew that it would come to this. Decision makers put into place an approach that guaranteed it would come to this. Decision makers are the designers and architects of this.

We congratulate, thank and applaud the incredible efforts of our health care workers. They have been fighting for all of us, with one arm tied behind their back.