Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Health spokesperson
Health Minister, Michael Ferguson, has finally admitted the self-evident truth, that “emergency and admissions are exceeding capacity" at the Royal Hobart Hospital.
It’s not the persistent number of admissions at the RHH that’s the problem, it’s the persistent underspending of this Government on beds.
The Minister is working on a “significant new package of measures” to address the demand. For the sake of sick Tasmanians, this should not just be another bandaid package of temporary ward openings.
Tasmanian Health Service staff, doctors, nurses and public health patients have been telling Minister Ferguson for years that the number of beds is not enough to cope with the increasing number of admissions. It's past time he listened.
To keep up with the average Australian health spend, the State needs at least another 80 acute-care beds opened now, and in perpetuity.
It's untruthful of the Minister to suggest the demand on beds at the RHH is temporary. It‘s contrary to the advice of senior health representatives from the Medical Staff Association and the ANMF.
Dr Frank Nicklason confirmed this January as “a relatively quiet period”. On ABC radio this morning, Minister Ferguson contradicted that view, and said it had been a busier than last year.
It doesn’t matter whether it was a slightly busier January or a relatively quiet one, public hospitals should be able to respond to the number of admissions. This Minister's chronic underfunding is causing the problem, not the patients arriving, seeking care.
January's admissions to emergency departments are typically never as high as the winter months, during a flu season. The RHH needs proper bed capacity now, for the long-term, so Tasmanians don't have to experience a winter health disaster.