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Bureaucratically run hospitals are a health hazard for Aussies

13 October, 2009

It is time for public hospitals to once again become the trusted and well-run institutions they used to be, says a new report.

In The Past is the Future for Public Hospitals: An Insider’s Perspective on Hospital Administration, Dr John Graham draws on over 40 years of experience in hospitals to reveal the tragic consequences of the decision to replace local public hospital boards with centralised bureaucracies.

‘Excessive bureaucratisation and totally inappropriate resource allocation has led to a catalogue of disasters for public hospital staff and patients,’ he says. ‘The ability of hospitals to serve the community has been seriously compromised.’

‘Almost $3 billion out of $7 billion spent on salaries by NSW Health each year fails to reach those giving in-patient care in public hospitals, but mostly gets directed to bureaucrats, consultants and others who are achieving far less than the pro bono Boards of Directors achieved for the system just 25 years ago.’

‘During my 42-year medical career, I have witnessed the descent of public hospitals from rewarding places in which to practise down to commonplace chaos, tragedy, and sometimes even farce.’

To persist with the current system will perpetuate ‘the waste, inefficiency, and dysfunction that has severely restricted ordinary Australians’ access to basic hospital services,’ says Dr Graham.

‘These problems are endemic in hospitals in NSW and throughout Australia. The only way to fix the problems in public hospitals is to reverse the disastrous mistakes of the last two decades and give hospitals back their independence.’

Dr John Graham is Chairman, Department of Medicine at Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital.