Health Minister, Michael Ferguson, is creating uncertainty and fear within his Department and further damaging morale as Health faces tens of millions in lost Commonwealth funding, Greens Health spokesperson, Cassy O'Connor MP, said today.
"Mr Ferguson has finally made a public appearance today after laying low since the Abbott Government announced it would be walking away from its responsibility to fund health services in Tasmania,” Ms O’Connor said.
"Shuffling the deck chairs in the DHHS bureaucracy is a bit like fiddling while Rome burns.”
"It's estimated $27 million will be carved out of the Health budget by the Abbott budget with the only certainty about future funding the fact that a massive hole will be left in public health funding starting immediately and continuing indefinitely.”
"Meanwhile, as Minister, Mr Ferguson is spending $1 million on delaying the Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment and overseeing the hiring of a private public relations consultancy, presumably to try to spin some non-existent good news out of bad.’
"There are capable media professionals working in the Health Department and in the government media unit. Surely one or more of them could have been seconded to the task as needed, at no extra cost?”
"Mr Ferguson's department is in disarray and people have stopped listening to him blaming the previous government, particularly in light of the Abbott Government's first Budget.”
"Elective surgery at the Royal has been put on hold until 1 July, prolonging the suffering of Tasmanians who've already waited too long for their operations. Yet, the Minister is prepared to make them wait longer.”
"As well, important Commonwealth funded preventative health programs such as the highly effective 'Move Well, Eat Well' and the 'Family Food Patch', as well as healthy school eating programs in school canteens, have no funding certainty after 1 July.”
"These programs were to be funded until 2018, but the Commonwealth dollars have been withdrawn overnight. This will come at a heavy cost to the health of school children, particularly in low socio-economic areas.”
"This short-sighted decision, on top of the elective surgery delays and announced multi-million dollar cuts in Health will do nothing to improve the health outcomes of Tasmanians, which is Mr Ferguson's job," Ms O'Connor said.