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The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is calling for an urgent boost in funding and resources for Australia’s “overstretched” public hospital system to ensure health professionals can deliver safe, quality care to the community.


With its members working on the frontline of public healthcare settings, the ANMF says it has become increasingly worried about the state of the nation’s hospitals. They say widespread issues include the lack of beds and ‘ambulance ramping’; elective surgery delays; decline in ED performances; and shortages of nurses and doctors.

The union argues the problems stem from Federal Government under-resourcing and demand urgent action.

“The government must use its National Cabinet to show genuine national leadership and urgently reform public health funding so that it is fair and equitable, and crucially so that health professionals can deliver safe, quality care to people who need care when they need it,” ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.

“Our public hospitals are beyond overstretched, and ANMF members across all sectors, including aged care, are run off their feet, day in, day out. What’s apparent is that the care they can provide to the community is clearly being compromised.”

Consistent with reports from its members, backed by the AMA’s Public Hospital Report Card, the ANMF suggests ED performance is declining, ambulance ramping is occurring across the country and that nurses, midwives, doctors and paramedics who are holding the system together are at breaking point.

“The COVID pandemic demonstrated just how important a strong, resilient public health system that is properly funded to cope with surges in demand is. We need to ensure that we don’t now neglect the system and cause unsustainable pressure on our healthcare professionals,” Ms Butler warned.

The ANMF is urging the government to return to a funding model that grows in response to ballooning demand and costs experienced by public hospitals and improves every Australian’s access to quality public health services, including elective surgery, EDs and subacute care.

The union is supporting the AMA’s calls for increased funding with a shared 50-50 Commonwealth-State funding model for public hospitals, and the need to address demand, improve performance and extend capacity.

“We are also asking the government to urgently address the factors exacerbating the pressures on the public health system, including improving primary health care services and, critically, ensuring better healthcare delivery in aged care through better staffing,” Ms Butter said.

“Extra funding for our public hospitals can’t wait. Access to adequate healthcare is the right of every Australian.”