The healthcare crisis in Western Australia is set to worsen over the next four years under Labor with a massive $1.5 billion shortfall in health funding as exposed in Parliament today by Dr David Honey, WA Liberal Leader.

Dr Honey, in his budget reply speech, said Labor’s funding shortfall does not include major funds needed to deal with the risk of COVID-19 breakouts in Western Australia over the coming years and would push our healthcare system to a breaking point.

“Health professionals forecast that the cost of health services in Western Australia has a growth rate of around 4% per year or a total of 17% over the next 4 years.

“However, over the next 4 years, the increased budget for health totals just 11.3%.

“Labor’s budgeted expenditure is substantially below this required level. The expected 17% growth in health costs over the 4-year budget estimates results in a cumulative funding gap of around $1.54 billion.

“Health expenditure from 2020/21 is impacted by the response to the Covid epidemic – additional funding is required for more medical personnel in public hospitals, quarantine facilities, vaccination centres and Covid testing centres.

“Yet, additional Covid expenditure in Labor’s state budget is forecast to finish by June 2022.

“The highly questionable assumption underpinning the state budget is clearly based on the proposition that these resources can be progressively diverted to dealing with Labor’s health system crisis – hospital Code Yellows; record ambulance ramping; Emergency Department staff shortages; exhaustion of frontline health workers; delays in critical surgeries; and inadequate maternity services.

“I have deep concerns about the future safety of Western Australians because Labor’s budget assumption is completely unrealistic – that we will not need an ongoing increase in health workers to deal with the Covid epidemic post June 2022.

“The fact is that expert health professionals have made it abundantly clear that Covid will represent an ongoing risk to our community for many years, not months.

“The Labor government has not provided any modelling that forms the basis of their assumption that Covid expenditure will be negligible post June 2022 – an assumption that tragically could cost lives because there will not be sufficient medical resources to deal with ongoing Covid infections in Western Australia.

“Moreover, there is nothing in this budget that indicates any serious effort to improve the efficiency of medical services.

“So, we are going to see a continuation of the current healthcare crisis under Labor and/or a reduction in critical health services.

“It is unclear how the WA Labor Government will be able to meet their commitment to add 332 beds, and around 100 new doctors and 500 nurses.

“The reality is that Labor’s mismanagement will mean that other services will have to be cut to pay for these additional resources or we will see further deterioration in ambulance response times and delays in critical surgery,” said Dr David Honey.