Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for HEALTH, Mr BARNETT
Ambulance ramping is spiralling out of control in Tasmania. It is an issue of deep concern for the community and for healthcare workers, but the Rockliff Government has so far refused to take the issue seriously.
On your first day in the Health job you held a media event at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Ramping was really bad at the hospital that day, as it regularly is now. It seems someone realised that lots of ambulances ramped outside the hospital and paramedics caring for multiple patients while they waited for hospital care might be a pretty bad look for the TV news. Interestingly, hospital staff report that before the cameras arrived, they were told to relocate emergency department patients to another part of the hospital in a highly irregular way to create space in the ED to clear the ramping. Did you or anyone in your office or anyone in the Government's media office ask for the hospital to be made more presentable, and when did you become aware this occurred?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I acknowledge and thank the hardworking staff and health workers at the Royal Hobart Hospital. I have been there three times now in the last 15 days as Minister for Health and I cannot express enough admiration for their work and their support, their level of professionalism and their care for their fellow Tasmanians. On behalf of the Government, I say thank you.
It disturbs me greatly to hear the member make those allegations because I raised that matter specifically with the chief executive of the Royal Hobart Hospital yesterday because they have been raised with him. He was very concerned and upset by that and does not concur with the remarks of the member.
Having said that, I want to make it very clear that we are 100 per cent in support and grateful to the workers at the Royal Hobart Hospital and the staff who provide that work, particularly in the emergency department. Why is it that within five hours of being sworn in, I visited the Royal Hobart Hospital's emergency department? Because it is a priority for this Government, and that is why we have that record funding and commitment to the Tasmanian people.
Dr Woodruff - Why haven't you picked up the phone to HACSU? Why aren't you been talking to the staff union?
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr BARNETT - I know Tasmanians expect to receive the very best of care, especially when they are at the emergency department. I expect that, the Government expects that; I do not accept the allegations that have been made and that is why it was raised with the Royal Hobart Hospital chief executive.