Speaking to ABC Radio on Friday, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid claimed Australia does not have the capacity to deliver “quality health care” when people need it.
It comes after the AMA published its latest public hospital report card which provided an update on the state of Australian hospitals.
“The data reveals that even during the 2020 lockdowns, hospitals were still overwhelmed – with backsliding or barely improved performance, even with dramatically reduced patient volumes,” the AMA tweeted.
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Speaking to COVID-10, Mr Khorshid said “what we had was a once in a generation event – a dramatic reduction in hospitalisation from accidents, injuries and illness.
“But what it revealed was that, unless we do something dramatic to help our hospitals, this is as ‘good as it gets’ when it comes to hospital performance.
“Even at a time when Australia was in lockdown and admissions through emergency departments and elective admissions dropped away, our public hospital performance in some cases decreased; in others, only improved a tiny bit.”
“What we’ve seen since then, of course, is demand’s really picked up in every state and territory, and hospitals have been bursting at the seams ever since.”
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Mr Khorshid said the overall message was “disappointing” because even in ideal circumstances when patient volume was low hospitals still “struggled”.
“We know that it’s so much worse now. So what that says for the future is that we just don’t have the capacity to deliver good, quality health care when people need it,” he said.
“And that’s regardless of COVID. Forget COVID demand. Just in the normal course of events, we just don’t have the capacity for our public hospital system to deliver.”
Doubling down on a concerning trend relating to hospital capacity for the elderly, Mr Khorshid said for 27 years in a row there had been a decline in the number of beds per head of the over 65 population. 
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“Now some of that is quite reasonable, because, of course, our hospital system’s gotten better in how we treat things,” he said.
“We’ve got new surgeries, new drugs, which means people don’t need to stay in hospital as long. But of course, you reach a tipping point where the system just doesn’t have the capacity.
“As the baby boomer ages, and as we keep people alive with conditions that would have killed them in the past, it’s causing a perfect storm of demand, which our system just hasn’t evolved to be able to cope with.”
He raised concerns the hospital system’s limited capacity could become a “handbrake” on the economy and Australia’s COVID-19 management and backed the vaccine as a good way to keep people out of hospital.
More than 36 million vaccine doses have been administered across Australia resulting in a 79.6 per cent double dose rate.

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