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Ferguson’s Band-aid Budget Won’t Prevent RHH Crisis

26 May 2017

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Health spokesperson

Despite the big talk about extra hundreds of millions of health dollars, the Budget reveals the Hodgman Government’s plan to spend less in the hospital system this year than was actually spent in the last. 

There is nothing in the State Budget to prevent the imminent winter flu crisis, and subsequent overcrowding, at the Royal Hobart Hospital.  It also won’t fix the desperate lack of acute beds, or the ongoing elective surgery pressure.

This is a band-aid Budget for a hemorrhaging hospital system.

After the Liberals’ massive $210 million health cut in 2014, continual under-investment and lack of long-term workforce or bed capacity planning, it's no surprise the RHH and ambulance system are both at breaking point.

The Hodgman Government has had four budgets to address the RHH redevelopment bed squeeze.  Instead, they chose to withhold the funds in their first three, and didn’t deal with the inevitable space – and bed – reduction.

There’s no Budget funds for extra acute ward beds in the RHH.  The Health Minister plans to open chairs, trolleys and short stay beds to stack non-acute patients in until an upstairs bed becomes available, but hasn’t even consulted emergency department staff about their needs.

Besides blocking a functioning walk-in admissions area, this may just create extra work for staff. It won’t solve the real problem - lack of beds for acute patients.

With ambulance ramping at the ED becoming a daily event, and the winter flu season on its way, there’s an urgent need for acute beds. The new rehabilitation beds in regional hospitals and the repatriation hospital will take 12 months to come, and are for sub-acute patients only.

The Budget contains a $6 million admission that the command-control management of the THS Executive, under Minister Ferguson, is failing to perform its primary role. The Statewide Operations and Command Centre is to be tasked with ensuring the safe, efficient and effective management of public hospitals. These should be a key function of the Executive.

This band-aid Budget is reflection of Michael Ferguson’s failure to effectively manage the Royal Hobart Hospital during the redevelopment, at the expense of patient safety.