Health workers who treat patients at the country’s hospitals and clinics are increasingly being subjected to the worst of the “worst of” as the government prepares to pass a bill which would require hospitals to use robots to perform routine surgery.
Key points:The new bill would require hospital-based services to use “robotic technology”The government is also planning to change the way the Commonwealth pays for hospitalsThe proposed changes to the Commonwealth’s health insurance system would affect about 500,000 hospital staff.
The Government is planning to introduce the changes by the end of the year, but they are not expected to go into effect until 2020.
“Robots will be used to perform the routine operations that are required of them,” Health Minister Scott Morrison said.
“The robots will be controlled remotely and will operate in the same manner as human staff, performing the operations in the patient’s absence.”
The changes are part of the Government’s plan to transform health care into a modern, collaborative system.
The proposed bill, which is set to be tabled next week, would require healthcare services to be treated by robots, allowing the Commonwealth to pay for their operations through a new health insurance scheme.
“If you have a robotic operation that you need done and you have to have the equipment to do it, the robot will be available to do the job,” Mr Morrison said on Thursday.
“That means it’s cheaper for the patient, it’s less expensive for the hospital, and it’s more efficient and more effective for the Commonwealth.”
Mr Morrison said the bill would make sure hospitals are prepared for the impact of the legislation on their operations.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be a disaster, but we’re not going to get to the point where hospitals are going to shut down or close down because of this legislation,” he said.
The proposal would also allow the Commonwealth and private providers to compete for the contract to operate hospitals, which would also mean fewer hospital closures.
“These changes are designed to ensure that hospital systems are prepared to provide quality health services and the services of the Commonwealth are the priority,” Mr Cameron said.
Mr Morrison confirmed the Government was also planning changes to how the Commonwealth is paying for hospitals.
“This is part of our long-term plan to change how the health insurance is funded in Australia,” he told the ABC.
“We are going into the future and we want to make sure that the changes to health insurance that are in the bill will be implemented as quickly as possible.”
Under the legislation, hospitals would need to pay up to $5 million to use a robotic system.
“It will mean hospitals will not have to close their doors and they will not be forced to close at weekends, on weekends, holidays, when they need to,” Mr Turnbull said.
While hospitals and other healthcare providers would be required to be prepared for changes, Mr Turnbull was adamant they would not be affected by the legislation.
“All hospitals will be able to be ready,” he added.
The bill will also include provisions to ensure the Government pays for hospital operations, including changes to medical malpractice insurance.
“As part of these changes, the Commonwealth will provide medical malcontent insurance, covering hospital staff who have sustained serious injuries and deaths, but the amount of coverage will not exceed $5,000 per hospital,” Mr Abbott said.
In a separate announcement on Thursday, the Government also said it was moving to change Medicare payments to the private sector.
“Medicare will pay for all hospital operations in Australia with the same amount of money paid to the hospitals,” the Prime Minister said.
The Government has already set aside $100 million to cover the cost of a new robot system.
Health Minister Scott Cameron said the Government had already set out a plan to ensure hospitals could continue to operate.
“What we’ve done is, we’ve put in place the Medicare changes that will allow us to continue to run our hospitals in a modern way,” he was quoted as saying.
“So that means that hospitals will continue to be able, if they so wish, to perform some of the routine tasks that we all know they’re going to need to do in a hospital, in a home, and that’s what we’re doing.”