Only three of Australia’s 201 public hospitals are providing care in recommended time, AMA says

Just three of Australia’s 201 public hospitals are delivering care within recommended timeframes, according to a damning report by the Australian Medical Association.

The AMA released the report on Tuesday in a bid to renew the push for 50-50 federal and state funding of hospitals at the next national cabinet meeting.

Friday’s meeting will consider the strengthening Medicare taskforce report, which aims to improve the primary care system to take stress off hospitals.

Related: Federal government won’t increase its share of hospital funding despite state push for 50-50 split

The health minister, Mark Butler, has foreshadowed major changes including more focus on paying medical staff in a “block” funding model for “blended” services.

Guardian Australia understands the report recommends a shift away from a fee-for-service only model, to add payments for general practices that improve digital services and offer multi-disciplinary teams, allowing patients to access nurses, physiotherapists and other allied health professionals.

On Tuesday Butler confirmed the report would be released “in coming days” but continued to play down the possibility primary care could be funded beyond Labor’s $750m strengthening Medicare fund.

He told Radio National that “simply putting more money into the existing structures is not going to deliver the type of care modern Australia needs”. Last week Butler all but ruled out an increase in the Medicare rebate for GPs.

The AMA report used Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data to measure emergency department and essential surgery performance in 2021–22.

Hospitals where 95% of patients or more received care within the clinically recommended time were given a red, amber or green “traffic light” rating in five categories.

Just three hospitals nationwide got a green rating in all five: Young in New South Wales, and South Coast District and Riverland General in South Australia. In 2020-21, 15 out of 201 hospitals received a green score against all performance indicators.

The AMA president, Prof Steve Robson, said “when national cabinet sits down on Friday, we want ministers to tackle the backlog of surgeries that we estimate will top half a million at the end of June, because it’s devastating for every person waiting and dealing with months and months of pain”.

“It’s unlikely hospitals will be able to expand their capacity to address this backlog if there is no intervention,” he said.

“We are calling for a new national plan funded by all governments but with an upfront advance payment provided by the commonwealth to support state and territory governments to expand their hospital capacity, including the workforce, to address the elective surgery backlog.”

The report calls for: 50-50 federal and state hospital funding; the abolition of the 6.5% annual cap on the growth of the commonwealth’s contribution; and introduction of pay-for-performance targets, a measure Robson told reporters in Canberra would ensure “that hospitals that perform well are rewarded”.

Since ending the temporary 50-50 funding split agreed during the first two years of the Covid pandemic, the federal government has not been keen to revisit the national health reform agreement which runs until 2025.

State premiers including New South Wales’s Dominic Perrottet and Victoria’s Dan Andrews have continued to push for 50-50 funding, and have called on the commonwealth to improve primary care to reduce the pressure on hospitals.

Butler told Guardian Australia “there’s no doubt that hospitals around the country are under pressure”.

“We said at the election that there was no higher priority for Labor in the health portfolio than strengthening Medicare and rebuilding general practice in particular, because the constant advice we have received across the country is that after nine years of cuts and neglect to Medicare, it has never been harder to see a doctor,” he said.

“Too many people are having to end up in a hospital emergency department because they can’t get the care they need in the community when and where they need it.”

Butler noted the government would establish 50 urgent care clinics and the taskforce would identify “the best ways to boost affordability, improve access, and deliver better support for patients with ongoing and chronic illness”.

On Tuesday the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said national cabinet would “talk through the hospital system, the way that it works as a whole”, adding it was “not surprising that people will always argue for increased funding”.