Greens NSW MP and spokesperson for Health, Cate Faehrmann has called for urgent investment in the healthcare workforce, following the release of two reports from the Bureau of Health Information overnight.
The new data exposes just how overstretched NSW’s health system became over the last year.
“These reports describe a health system that’s buckling under the strain of under-resourcing and neglect during a pandemic,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“This is a staffing issue. We know how chronically overworked nurses and paramedics have been over the past two years, and too many have left having been pushed too hard for too long.”
Last year had one of the biggest backlogs of non-emergency surgery patients on record.
“Non-emergency doesn’t mean it can wait,” said Ms Faehrmann. “These are critical and life-saving surgeries, like gall bladder transplants and heart valve replacements. When we have more than 95,000 people waiting to be seen for surgery - almost 11,000 of them overdue - that’s a system that’s failing.”
Across the state, urgently sick people aren’t being seen fast enough. More than two-thirds of those suffering suspected stroke, heart attack or serious injuries not seen within the clinically recommended 10 minutes. There were dramatic drops in metro areas: Prince of Wales hospital saw a 23% increase in urgent emergency patients who were not being seen on time since this report came out last year.
“Experts have been warning the government for years that there are cracks in the system, but they’ve been ignored. Covid has exacerbated that weakness and now we’re seeing serious repercussions.”
“This is a wakeup call to the Perrottet government that we need public health resourcing right now.”
“That means immediate and practical help for nurses, paramedics and other frontline healthcare workers. In other words fair pay and better conditions.
The report highlights the stress on paramedics, who have said they need an additional 1,500 staff on the road. When Delta and Omicron peaked in September and December, there were “striking increases” in patients who couldn’t be reached within the target 15 minutes.
The Greens are calling for a NurseKeeper payment.
“We want to see the government provide an immediate $5000 bonus to nurses and paramedics who stay in or return to the public health system, and a further bonus twelve months from now to support staff retention.”
“We’ve asked so much of health staff over the last two years, and they need more than our thanks in return. If we want our public hospitals to function again, we have to make it worth the stress for the people who run them,” said Ms Faehrmann.