Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson
The Rockliff Government must end its reliance on the private health system to provide essential health services for Tasmanians, and immediately investigate the acquisition of St Helen’s private hospital for public mental health services.
The risks of relying solely on the private system have been exposed by the unsafe situation for birthing services in the state’s North West – a situation the government has finally stepped in to fix.
While we welcome the announcement NW birthing services will be returned to the public system, it is further proof no government can afford to relinquish critical service delivery to for-profit businesses.
The problems with relying only on private health providers are playing out with the imminent closure of St Helens’ 31 bed mental health facility in Hobart – which offers specialist life-saving mental health treatments available nowhere else. St Helen’s also provides the state’s only eight-bed Mother Baby Unit.
The multinational company has let hospital maintenance run down and is pulling out of Hobart for financial reasons, leaving Tasmanians in need to bear the brunt of the decision.
Private hospital operators are focused on profits, with patients the vehicle for achieving that. While private operators can offer useful additional support to the public system, we cannot – and should not – rely on profit-making companies for the sole provision of critical health services.
The Rockliff Government should learn their lesson from what has occurred with the North West birthing service, and is happening again with St Helen’s. If we want long-term, reliable and safe care, with patients as the number one priority, we need a truly universal public health system.
Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff needs to tell Tasmanians what essential health services we are depending on private hospitals to provide. He also needs a lay out a plan to bring these services – including those at St Helen’s – back into the public system.