One year into the job and Health Minister, Michael Ferguson, has presided over a massive blowout in the elective surgery waiting list at the Royal Hobart Hospital, despite his over-promising rhetoric that he will ‘fix’ elective surgery, Greens’ Health spokesperson, Cassy O’Connor MP, said today.
“The latest Department of Health and Human Services Progress Chart shows the number of Tasmanians waiting for elective surgery at the Royal has skyrocketed by 41.9% on the same period last year, and people are waiting longer for elective surgery at every one of the state’s four major hospitals,” Ms O'Connor said.
“This is what happens when the Health budget is savaged, as it was in the first Hodgman Government budget last year, with $19.8million cut this year and $210million across the Forward Estimates. On top of this, the Abbott Government’s first budget gouged a projected $1.7billion out of Tasmania’s health system over the next decade.”
“The public health system in Tasmania is being bled of funds by State and Federal Governments when in fact it requires increased resourcing, and it is Tasmanians who are languishing on the growing waiting lists who are made to pay in prolonged pain and suffering.”
“The Royal Hobart Hospital continues to be underfunded for what it is required and expected to do. Frontline staff are not having contracts renewed as a result of budget cuts. It is unsustainable and unfair on patients.”
“It’s reasonable to ask what happened in real terms to the $76million that the Minister claimed would ease elective surgery waiting lists immediately.”
“If Minister Ferguson is serious about ‘fixing’ Tasmania’s health system, he needs to convince his Cabinet colleagues – particularly the Treasurer – that the $210million cuts to Health in this term must be reversed.
“Bringing down the elective surgery waiting list at the Royal and delivering his important, necessary reform agenda will, sadly, not be possible unless the cuts announced last August are reversed and more, not less, resources go into Tasmania’s public health system,” Ms O’Connor said.