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Ferguson’s Broken Health System Legacy

19 Sep 2017

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Health spokesperson

Health Minister, Michael Ferguson’s parroting of an unpredictable, unusually high influenza season this winter is an insult to the staff and patients at the Royal Hobart Hospital.  It’s a fiction to say it was unpredictable, when clinicians and staff warned of the risk six months ago.

Over the last six days, the RHH Emergency Department have had two Category 4 escalations, an increase in violent events, and all non-urgent surgeries in the hospital have been cancelled. Working conditions at the Royal were described yesterday by HACSU as “crushing”.

Senior clinicians and the major health agencies called on the Health Minister to meet and plan for the acute winter crisis in April, and got no response. All the Liberals could manage was a political patch-up strategy after the winter crisis had already begun.

Today’s news that less than 20 per cent of patients are being admitted to a bed in the required 4 hour period at the RHH is deeply concerning, but not surprising.  Bed delays increase the risk of dying for elderly and chronically ill patients.

The Medical Staff Association has confirmed the Minister has failed to listen to staff and plan for the Royal’s bed crisis over the past two years. The escalating crisis in the Royal Hobart Hospital will be Michael Ferguson’s legacy.

In May, Coroner Chandler pointed to the Liberals’ failure to provide appropriate staffing levels at the RHH, and not adhering to national benchmarks as factors behind a patient death in 2015.  Since then Minister Ferguson has overseen reduced hospital funding, in real terms, in three State Budgets.

Minister Ferguson’s legacy will be a broken public health system, in a worse state than when he took on responsibility. The only way to fix the mess he’s made is to put the money back into community health immediately.