More stress for public hospitals

Andrew Laming addressed the crowd at Ag-Grow on Wednesday.
Andrew Laming addressed the crowd at Ag-Grow on Wednesday.

EMERALD Hospital will be forced to find in excess of $80,000 a year to cover the carbon tax impost, says the Federal Opposition.

Looking out of his comfort zone, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Services Andrew Laming delivered the message he has been spreading around the nation - the carbon tax will cripple public health systems.

Mr Laming said private hospitals would jack up prices further beyond the reach of the average patient, but government-owned hospitals would be left to fund it themselves.

"Our public hospital system can't levy any charges on patients," Mr Laming said among the crowd at Ag-Grow on Wednesday.

"Their only source of income is state and Federal Government, and that means a carbon tax will hit them directly and they cannot get any compensation for that."

It will cost hospitals just less than $2500 for each bed, he said, and charges will hit virtually every aspect of their operations.

"If you take a 34-bed hospital like Emerald, which has a very high proportion of emergent care and ambulatory care, that could be a bill in excess of $80,000 a year," he said.

"That's money that can't be spent on patient care, can't be spent on community development, and can't be spent on reducing emergency waits."

At the same time, Prime Minister Julia Gillard was in Rockhampton selling the $6 billion Regional Infrastructure Fund. She said she was aware of the strain resource industry development put on mining communities.

"I'm really conscious that many people intellectually understand we have a strong economy and understand we are going through an incredible mining boom," Ms Gillard said.

"But they look at the bills pinned on the fridge or lying on the kitchen table and say 'I can't feel this boom in my own life'."

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