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Labor Matter of Public Importance - Health Cuts

10 September 2019
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, few questions times that I can remember have left such a sour taste in my mouth. Or maybe a better analogy would be the impact it had on my ears hearing the Premier of Tasmania stand here and answer questions with shameful bunkum and falsehoods, and pure unadulterated spin. It was a disgrace to him and his reputation and what he purports to be doing for this state that he could stand here and deny the truth that his Liberal Cabinet members have decided to cut frontline health services in this state.

We asked the questions of the Treasurer and every other minister we sat in front of during budget Estimates. Ms O'Connor and I asked questions about where the Treasurer's 0.07 per cent dividend of efficiency, so-called, was going to come from in their budgets. We wanted to know which services were cut. Every single minister of every department refused to answer that question, but assured us that they would never come from frontline services. There would never be any risk to Tasmanians - to their health, to their care, to any other operational service. Yet here we have the Premier of Tasmania today absolutely mislead Tasmanians about what has happened over the last couple of weeks.

As we have seen, time and again, in hospitals across Tasmania, surgeons, nurses and other staff are making outcries about the reality of the directives they have been handed. Just a few weeks ago, we heard that the surgeons at the Royal Hobart Hospital are bracing themselves for massive cuts of 15 per cent to elective surgery waiting lists. These are the same surgeons who have had to suffer working with patients who have waited far, far longer. Already the elective surgery waiting lists in Tasmania have ballooned under the Liberal Government. Massively ballooned. They have grown by 75 per cent since mid-2017. In two years, the elective surgery waiting list has ballooned by 75 per cent. They have increased from 5403 in July 2017 to a wall of 9426 individual people. They are individual people, just like Helen Manser, who was reported on by the ABC for having waited more than two years for elective surgery after recovering from bladder cancer. She had to endure what she described as, '"deeply personal health problems", including recurring urinary tract infections, daily pain and discomfort.', that had a devastating and huge impact on her life because she did not receive the follow-up elective surgery she needed in a timely fashion. Ms Manser is one of 9426 people with 15 per cent cut from elective surgery waiting lists and $50 million cut from the Royal Hobart Hospital budget.

It is a matter of fact and, on behalf of Tasmanians, I will tell people that this Premier has misled Tasmanians when he says there will be no cuts to frontline health services. It is happening today. It is also happening for the nurses who will no longer go to work and have time for a proper handover if they are casual or permanent part-time nurses. They will no longer, under this Health minister, who has directed them to cut shifts from eight to seven or six hours; either a one or two hour cut to a shift with no time for handover, no time to make sure the safety and care of patients is properly recorded and passed on to the next person so that avoidable mistakes do not happen. As we heard on the ABC last night, what a shame for this beautiful state to be pointed out as one of the postcodes; the whole state. Other states have some regional areas but the whole of Tasmania has impoverished emergency department services and this same Liberal government has cut and cut and refused to increase the funding to the hospital budget to keep up with the -

Ms Archer - Oh, that is wrong.

Dr WOODRUFF - No, this is the truth. The Minister for Health and the previous minister for health stand here day after day and pretend there has been an increase and the greatest amount of money ever spent on Health. They have, Madam Deputy Speaker, because every single health budget in the history of the known universe has increased year by year because of the cost of medical equipment, because of the cost of staff. That is what happened. That is not the real increase that is needed to make sure that Mr Nivaskis and the other sad, heartbreaking people whose stories were talked about on the ABC, that those people do not get left waiting in emergency departments; not admitted, not looked at. On behalf of all Tasmanians, I call on the Premier not to mislead the House again.