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RHH Crisis Won’t Be Fixed By Spin

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Saturday, 25 September 2021

Tags: Royal Hobart Hospital, Health Crisis, Emergency Department

Rosalie Woodruff MP - Greens Health spokesperson

The most recent HealthStats dashboard update paints a grim picture of a Royal Hobart Hospital in crisis, with Emergency Department statistics the worst ever recorded. 

The HealthStats figures for the Royal show only 29% of ED patients were seen on time in August - a truly appalling figure, and easily the worst result on record. 

Not only that, but just 36% of patients with an imminently life-threatening condition, and 19% of patients with a potentially life-threatening condition were seen on time - also record lows. This is compared to the national benchmarks of 80% and 75% respectively. 

These are truly distressing figures, and represent thousands of Tasmanians waiting to be treated for life-threatening conditions for far longer than is safe. Given how bad things have become, it’s troubling that all we’ve heard from the Health Minister in response to these statistics is spin designed to promote the government’s existing policies. 

The statement released by Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff blamed ‘increasing demand’ for these terrible results in the Royal’s ED. While it’s true that demand pressures are a significant consideration across our health system, the Minister needs to admit these don’t explain the decline of outcomes at the Royal in recent months. 

The number of presentations to the Royal has actually remained quite stable in the last six months, with the average presentations per month coming in at 6,309 patients. The presentations for August were less than 1% higher, at 6,371.

While the number of patients presenting to the ED across the last six months has remained effectively the same, the number of patients seen within four hours has dropped dramatically - from 3,556 patients to 2,962. The number of patients seen on time has dropped from 44% to 29%. 

These data make it clear that while ED staff are doing their absolute best, the government just isn’t doing enough to support them. Plans for future increases in hospital capacity are near meaningless when Emergency Departments are so chronically understaffed right now. 

People’s lives are being put at risk now, and we need immediate action. 

It’s time for the Liberals to stop pretending the problems in the health system are entirely outside their control, and to start taking real responsibility for the health and welfare of all Tasmanians.