Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for Health
The Hon Peter Dutton MP
Tasmanian Minister for Health
The Hon Michael Ferguson MP
5 May 2014
A Report by the Commission on Delivery of Health Services in Tasmania released today by Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton and Tasmanian Health Minister Michael Ferguson reveals serious concerns about the state’s health system and the mismanagement of the Royal Hobart Hospital re-development.
The report outlines that major changes are needed to ensure the Tasmanian health system meets the needs of patients and highlights inefficient and wasteful practices.
Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said it was clear the previous Labor and Labor-Green Governments had run the health system into the ground in Tasmania.
Tasmania’s Health Minister Michael Ferguson said he was appalled at some of the problems revealed by the report.
“The Commission has levelled serious criticisms at the governance of the Tasmanian health system and recommends that the redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital be placed on hold,” Mr Ferguson said.
“The extent to which both levels of Labor Government have bungled the Tasmanian health system is astounding. Labor is all about bureaucracy and not beds,” Mr Dutton said.
Mr Ferguson said the report expressed deep concern about the ‘seriously deficient’ planning process for the RHH redevelopment, and recommended it be placed on hold to ensure that a full and comprehensive service plan is developed.
“The Commission found that the development under the previous state government was ‘flawed’ and displayed a ‘lack of appropriate planning and consultation’, which is in line with the new Liberal Government’s decision to place the project on hold.”
It is important to note that the Commission is a panel of independent experts appointed by the previous Labor Federal and State Governments.
Mr Ferguson said former Tasmanian Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne must accept the findings against her Government’s mismanagement of the Royal re-development given she confirmed her faith in the Commission in parliament in 2012, referring to Chair Alan Bansemer as ‘a very respected health player’.
Mr Ferguson said that both levels of government were concerned to see that health needs were met safely and in the most cost-effective manner possible.
“The Commission’s Report outlines the major changes needed to ensure that the Tasmanian health system meets the needs of patients, ending excessively long waiting times for elective surgery and inefficient and wasteful practices,” he said.
“These findings of the Commission are a matter of great concern to me – as I am sure they are to all Tasmanians. We have to make our health system work for us.”
Mr Dutton said that the Australian Government was serious about improving the quality of health care in Tasmania and that he would work with his state counterpart to make that a reality.
“Just as we found at a Federal level, Labor has left a mess in health in Tasmania and the new Liberal Government will fix up Labor’s mess.”
Mr Ferguson said the Commission had put forward a range of important findings and recommendations to improve Tasmanians’ access to high-quality health care and to ensure the long-term sustainability of Tasmania’s health system.
The Report stresses the need for fundamental reforms to a system that is not meeting Tasmania’s health needs and calls for changes based on the involvement of the health workforce and the empowerment of the Tasmanian community as health consumers.
Mr Ferguson said there were serious unacceptable outcomes for Tasmanians revealed in the Report, including:
- hospital-initiated cancellations of elective surgery at a rate three times that of Victoria;
- almost 45 per cent of Tasmanian patients were overdue by clinical urgency at 30 June 2013, compared to 11.5 per cent nationally;
- 35.9 per cent of Emergency Department presentations had a length of stay of eight hours or greater, compared to 26.6 per cent nationally;
- 41.9 of Emergency Department presentations were GP type presentations – the highest in the country; and
- frustration for Tasmanians waiting for elective surgery, including ‘dropping off’ waiting lists.
“Tasmanians deserve better than this.”
The Commission on Delivery of Health Services in Tasmania was jointly established by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments in 2012.
It’s Preliminary Report of 2012 and today’s Report can be accessed via the Commission's website.
Media Contact (Mr Dutton): John Wiseman – 0401 776 108
Media Contact (Mr Ferguson): Vanessa Fabris – 0459 802 513