The Commonwealth health service is now under intense scrutiny after a damning report commissioned by the Abbott government revealed a “massive lack of transparency” and “significant gaps” in care.
“I’ve never seen a system so poorly maintained,” Labor leader Bill Shorten told a press conference in Canberra.
He called on Labor to release the report and “get it out to the people of this country”.
Health Minister Peter Dutton has dismissed suggestions that his department is failing to deliver on its commitment to deliver the best health outcomes for Australians.
He told ABC Radio on Thursday that “it’s all about accountability, transparency and accountability”.
The report, published by the Commonwealth Government and released by the Department of Health, was commissioned by Health Minister Michael McCormack to investigate “the extent of Commonwealth services over the past four years”.
It also identified gaps in the care of more than 10,000 people.
“It is important to know the results of the independent inquiry, to make sure the Commonwealth is delivering on its promises, and to ensure we have an independent and fair review of the Commonwealth’s health system,” Mr McCormack said.
“The Commonwealth Government is undertaking a full review of its delivery of Commonwealth health services.”
Health Minister Philip Ruddock said the report was “very important” for the health of the nation.
“What we’re doing in the private sector, the health industry, is looking at what can be done better,” he said.
The report’s findings are expected to be released on Tuesday.
In response to questions from the ABC, Mr McCormick said he had previously called for the independent commission to be “resigned”, saying that its recommendations were “too much in line with the way the Government has delivered in the past”.
“There is a very clear, stark distinction between the Government and the Commonwealth, which is not reflected in the report,” Mr Ruddock told ABC radio.
“There are some very important things that the independent panel has said.
I’ve never called for it to be withdrawn or dismissed.”
Mr Shorten said the Commonwealth had to do more to “put its money where its mouth is”.
“If you look at the Commonwealth spending over the last four years, over the year and a half, the Commonwealth has spent more than $1.5 billion, almost three times more than the next largest economy, Australia,” he told reporters.
Labor’s Health spokesman Dr Brendan O’Connor said the Coalition had a “clear opportunity” to deliver better health outcomes by introducing a $1 billion health fund. “
We’re going to do everything we can to get that money into the community, to get our health service up to the standard that we want.”
Labor’s Health spokesman Dr Brendan O’Connor said the Coalition had a “clear opportunity” to deliver better health outcomes by introducing a $1 billion health fund.
“That is where the money is going to be going,” he says.
“People need to know that the health services of the Australian people are there to help them.”
The report says that while there is a “significant gap in health services”, there are also “significant opportunities” to improve services.