Labor to create special inquiry into NSW health budget

Australian Associated Press, 16 February 2023

Labor will set up a royal commission-style inquiry into the bulging $33 billion NSW health budget, saying the stretched system is broken, with patients and practitioners suffering.

Labor leader Chris Minns says there is an enormous amount of money going into the sector "yet we still see very poor health outcomes for patients".
The commitment ahead of the March 25 state election comes days after the Health Services Union called for an inquiry in a report that blamed the coalition government for "chronic misallocation of resources and warped priorities".
The report found patient complaints about health services increased by 144 per cent during the past decade and 40 per cent more since the start of the pandemic.

From September 2021 to June 2022, 10 per cent of people who urgently needed an ambulance in NSW waited for more than two hours.

"Thousands of people walking out of emergency departments every month without receiving treatment is a pretty clear indicator that something is very wrong," Mr Minns said on Thursday.
Labor says it will boost the depleted workforce by funding an extra 500 rural and regional paramedics, returning 600 beds to Western Sydney and upgrading several hospitals in fast-growing population centres including Canterbury, Fairfield, Mount Druitt and Blacktown.

"We don't see this (inquiry) as a coercive opportunity but as an important opportunity to shine a spotlight on the health system," he told reporters.
Premier Dominic Perrottet lambasted the proposal saying "what we need is more bulk-billing GPs, not more lawyers and their fees".

"Here we are before an election and the Labor party want to play politics with patients when what they should be focused on is fixing the system nationally just like every other Labor premier," he told reporters.

He has repeatedly defended his government's track record, saying the state has the best health-care system in the country.

But the HSU says ambulance ramping and emergency wait times are "symptoms of a deeper malaise that needs to be addressed".

With nurses and paramedics going on strike several times last year over wages and lack of staffing, the report also estimates that by the end of the decade the NSW hospital sector will need an extra 25,000 full-time medical, allied health and support staff to meet projected increases in demand.