Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson
Health Minister, Michael Ferguson, has been flying patients to private hospitals in Victoria for routine surgery to try and reduce the elective waiting lists.
Instead of investing funds into Tasmanian public hospitals, Minister Ferguson has been paying private hospitals in Tasmania and interstate to conduct routine surgeries.
We have been contacted by General Practitioners who are extremely concerned about the money being wasted to send patients interstate for routine surgeries like colonoscopies, key hole surgeries and tubal ligations.
These are common procedures that can, and should, be done in any Tasmanian hospital.
Our Health budget is being spent in private Victorian and Tasmanian hospitals, while Minister Ferguson refuses to fund permanent positions to do this work in the public system.
There is a significant cost involved in interstate surgery, including airfares, transport, accommodation, as well as hospital costs themselves. There is also increased stress, risk and complications for patients with the flying and other travel involved.
In March 2015, there were over 9,000 people on the elective surgery waiting list and the Health Minister tells us that's now dropped below 6,000. While the reduction is good news, we wonder where those surgeries have taken place and how much taxpayer money has gone to the private sector here and interstate.
It's hard not to conclude that Minister Ferguson has been spending elective surgery funds in private hospitals, here and interstate, to improve the statistics and his own political reputation, instead of fixing the underlying problem.
The role of government is to maintain a functioning public health system. Directly channelling elective surgery funds into the private system means our hospitals are increasingly abandoned.