Almost every flu season the Queensland public health system is forced to spend millions of dollars renting beds from private hospitals. In 2019, Queensland public hospitals were so overwhelmed they were forced to declare an emergency and ask people not to go to emergency departments.
In the same year a public health expert warned Queensland was not prepared for even a bad flu season, citing an ageing population and overburdened emergency departments. Elective surgery wait times are blowing out and our nurses and doctors are overworked.
The COVID-19 crisis is a crisis of government cuts, privatisation and putting corporate profits over crucial public services. Years of underfunding has left our public health system unprepared to handle a public health crisis like COVID-19 and eroded trust in it.
Within the developed world, Australia has one of the worst ratios of total hospital and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds to people. Australia is 18th of 36 major developed countries when it comes to hospital and ICU beds with only 3.8 hospital beds per 1000 people. While Queensland only has 3.7 hospital beds per 1,000 people, Germany (8 per 1,000) and South Korea (12 per 1,000) have more than double and triple, respectively. Meanwhile Queensland only has 9 ICU beds per 100,000 people, while Germany has 29.
The Queensland public health system is forced to run at near 100% capacity to help cut costs. That must end. Healthcare is a universal right, and our public hospitals should be the best in the world.
The Greens will:
- Increase our ICU capacity by at least eight times pre crisis levels and further increase ED capacity, aiming for 3,500 ICU beds as soon as possible across the state, matching Victoria’s emergency response per person.
- Make the influenza vaccine available for free to help take pressure off our health system
- Make the COVID-19 vaccine free for everyone when it’s finally produced.
- Provide face-masks and hand sanitizer free to all Queenslanders by rapidly establishing a string of public factories to mass produce face masks, hand sanitizer and other crucial PPE. Mandatorily acquire any suitable existing factory capacity to speed this process up.
Over the long run, the Greens plan will:
- Create 21,000 more hospital beds and at least 1,000 more ICU beds across the state to match Germany’s ratio of beds to people.
- Employ at least 6,500 more nurses and 3,000 more doctors to match Germany’s ratio of nurses and doctors to people, expand much-needed emergency department capacity and improve nurse and doctor to patient ratios
- Build 200 Community Health Clinics with bulk billing GPs and specialists to take pressure off our hospital system.
- Establish a string of public factories to manufacture face masks, other PPE, and hand sanitiser with the funding to make both freely available to all Queenslanders whenever they’re needed.