Springborg rules out hospital privatisation despite cuts
HEALTH Minister Lawrence Springborg has ruled out privatising Queensland hospitals in the wake of massive cuts in the federal budget.
The Abbott government has ripped out billions of dollars for funding to the states for hospitals and health, prompting Campbell Newman to call an emergency meeting of Premiers this weekend.
But Mr Springborg told the ABC on Friday that Queensland would not be going down the path of handing over hospitals to private enterprise to run.
The government has already copped a backlash on the issue over the $2 billion hospital being built at Kawana on the Sunshine Coast.
The debate comes as Premier Campbell Newman said Queenslanders were waiting less time for ambulances, on dental waiting lists and in emergency departments than ever before.
Mr Newman said the latest Queensland Health figures show the state is well on the way to having the best free public health system in the nation.
"Queensland's health system has gone from one of the worst performing to one of the best in the country in just two years," he said.
"Our emergency departments have been cited by the Australian Medical Association as Australia's best.
"Gone are the days of long waits in emergency departments and ambulance ramping.
"In our emergency departments, we now have 78% of patients being treated within four hours, compared to 63% just two years ago."
Mr Newman said the results would not have been possible if not for the hard working health professionals across the state.
"A very big thank you to the doctors, to the nurses, to the administrators, to the entire team in our public health system in Queensland," he said.
"Our unequivocal goal is to be the best in the nation when it comes to public health."
Mr Springborg said the latest figures show that while patient numbers in emergency departments are growing faster than anywhere else in Australia, they continue to set a cracking pace when it comes to treating patients.
"Almost every health service in Queensland treated a greater number of patients within the recommended time than in the same period in 2012," he said.
"Waiting times have been slashed, with the number of patients waiting any longer than the recommended clinical time dropping by more than half.
"Queensland's median wait time for surgery in the last financial year was the shortest in Australia, with an average wait of 27 days compared to a national average of 36 days."
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the waiting times had only improved because of an agreement between the states and the former Federal Government.
She also expressed concern at what affects the massive cuts to the federal health budget announced in this week's would have on Queensland.
"What is going to happen when our emergency departments are being flooded with people because they cannot afford to pay seven dollars," she said.
"They are ripping apart our universal health system.
"We will see a full privatisation of our health system if Tony Abbott continues to be in power."
The Queensland Health figures for respective regions will be published in APN titles across the state.