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Health - Elective Surgeries

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 6 September 2021

Tags: Elective Surgery, Health, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - The performance target you have for elective surgeries in this Budget are extremely welcome. In light of the Government's history of delivery elective surgeries, they are heroic, unbelievable might be another way of framing it, how many extra full-time equivalent nurses and midwives will be recruited to assist with the goal of 30 000 elective surgeries over the next three years?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I will come to that question when we get that data for you. Off the top of my head, it is 180 overall to deliver the additional elective surgeries. Elective surgery is a four year plan. It has been clinician-led. They have come up with a plan in the full knowledge that they have funding to support that plan. We would like to move away from the blitz terminology; it should be more about sustainability.

If you look at the elective surgery number around 2016 where we invested considerable funds as a one off, it did have an impact on the decrease in elective surgery. While the base funding continued, we need to ensure that the increase in funding, the one-off situation, also continued so we don't get graphs looking like that, for example. It has been accentuated by the circumstances of the pandemic.

Dr WOODRUFF - That wasn't the reason why we have the situation we have.

Mr ROCKLIFF - The cancellation of non-emergency elective surgery did have an impact. Nonetheless, pandemic or no pandemic, that is too high. I accept that, particularly Tasmanians who are not seen in the clinically-recommended timeframes. This has been a particular focus of our government, because if you are not seen within the clinically recommended timeframes you get sicker. We believe that the plan is sustainable, because the funding is there and it has been clinician-led with clinicians working together statewide on all these matters.

The clinicians determining the staffing mix to support our surgery plan have told us we need more nurses and allied health staff to continue to increase elective surgery. Significant recruitment activity is underway for additional perioperative staff, including nursing, allied health, administrative and support staff as part of the elective surgery plan. We are also recruiting additional staff to support the opening of the new wards, and this will also help manage demand and help support our elective surgery plan.

I have spoken about the Trauma and Acute Surgical Unit (TASU) on Ward 6A. At full capacity, that will be 24 beds. They have done a tremendous job in getting TASU up in a very quick amount of time. My latest information, I think, is that 16 of the 24 beds are open.

Ms MORGAN-WICKS - It was 12 originally, but we can get that number today.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I stand corrected on that. We will open beds as we have the staff and the capacity to do so, to the capacity of 24 beds

Opening the new 3D medical ward at the Launceston General Hospital (LGH), brings 28 beds, in terms of additional beds in the LGH Short Stay Unit. The creation of a standalone Infectious Disease Ward at the North West Regional Hospital, independent of the Medical Ward, frees up a further 6 beds on the Medical Ward, as well as the establishment of an 8 bed Short Stay Surgical Unit to support the increase in the surgeries at the North West Regional Hospital. We announced that additional amount in the Budget above the commitments we made on 1 May. Like every other state, we're experiencing recruitment challenges.

We have mentioned the Task Force before and the stakeholders we are bringing together, and we have some further information on the TASU.

Ms MORGAN-WICKS - The TASU, the new surgical unit that's opened on 6A, has 16 beds open at the moment. I'm sorry minister, I suggested 12. Twelve beds are dedicated to surgical. With the announcement of the new 3A General Medical ward, a 24-bed ward, we will be moving the pod of five medical beds that were to sit on 6A down to 3A. That it is increasing from 5 to 24 and making another 24 beds on Level 6 dedicated to the Trauma and Acute Surgical Unit.

Staffing to support that, in terms of the 180 staff statewide who are expected to contribute to the delivery of elective surgery, includes more than 112 nurses, 10 doctors, 16 allied health staff as well as approximately 40 hospital support staff and they are critical to the delivery of the efficient functioning elective surgery capacity.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, how many elective surgeries were cancelled once the patient was admitted to hospital in the 2020-21 financial year? How many of those people were later admitted for an emergency procedure for their surgery?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I'll see if we can get that number for you. Ms Morgan-Wicks and I are on the same page of our information.

Dr WOODRUFF - Should I put it in writing?

Mr ROCKLIFF - If you wanted to you could but we can try to source that information for you before the end of the day.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you and I will put it in writing just in case you can't.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Like a question on notice?

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, the Greens spent quite a lot of last year, among other things, calling for the Government to make more use of the private hospital system's capacity to bring down the elective surgery waiting list. We're glad to see that now you are minister this is a very strong focus. Can you provide figures on how many elective surgeries for public patients were conducted in private hospitals in 2019-21 and 2020-21?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I have the number of surgical procedures outsourced to private providers, which I believe we have detailed before.

Dr WOODRUFF - Elective surgeries specifically.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Why don't I provide the number of surgical procedures outsourced to private providers and if there is further drilling down to do in separating elective surgery and the surgical procedures? We can provide that for you. In the 2020 21 year, 4334 surgical procedures were outsourced to private providers, the year before it was 2224, and the year before that, the 2018 19 year, it was 3346. I believe I stated before, in the month of July, there were 436. I am advised that these are numbers removed from the actual elective surgery waiting list in relation to your question.