In Western Australia, a third of hospital staff are on strike and the number of doctors and nurses is being cut in half.

The WA Government says it is trying to balance the books by reducing hospital operating costs.

“In the last 12 months, we have had a reduction in operating costs of about 15 per cent, a reduction of about 3 per cent in hospital funding and a reduction by about 3.3 per cent of total funding,” Health Minister Terry Mulder said on Wednesday.

WA Premier Colin Barnett has blamed the strike on the health system, but has previously said he wanted to protect WA’s hospitals.

A statement from the Government says that in July 2016, the Government announced that it would introduce a “special fund” to reduce operating costs, which has since resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in the number and pay of doctors.

Abuse and fraud Abusive practices are rife in Western Australian hospitals, with patients routinely being put in isolation.

Many patients are denied oxygen, forced to wait for hours for treatment, and are given antibiotics to kill the virus.

Dr Mulder says there has been a reduction from 23 to 17 per cent over the last six months.

He says it’s not enough to address the problem.

“We’ve got to go and fix the underlying issues.

We need to do the right thing, we need to tackle the underlying root causes, and we have to address this with a serious, concerted, coordinated and proactive approach,” Dr Mulder told ABC Radio WA.

This year, WA is planning to cut $2 billion from the hospital budget.

State Opposition leader Rachel Siewert says it will make hospitals less competitive.

“[The Government’s] actions are not going to be successful in improving the quality of care at Western Australia hospitals,” Ms Siewer told ABC TV.

Ms Siewet says hospitals are also suffering from poor communication.

She says the strike will hurt patients and doctors.

“The people of Western Australia are really looking for answers to the issue of staffing in the hospitals,” she said.

Mr Mulder has promised to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon to address staff grievances.

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