Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for HEALTH, Mr FERGUSON
Dr Frank O'Keeffe is a highly regarded specialist who at your press conference yesterday expressed the intense frustrations of clinicians and staff when he said, 'If we don't have the beds for our major cases, we can't do the major cases and at the moment we don't have the beds.' Minister, setting aside your obfuscation and self-promotion, Dr O'Keeffe is correct, isn't he?
Madam Speaker, I thank Dr Woodruff for the question. Dr O'Keeffe is correct when he refers to bed pressures. I have acknowledged that many times but am happy to repeat for you today. The proof that the Government, my colleagues on this side of the House, recognise the same issue is that we are providing a new building for the Royal Hobart Hospital which will include vital new women's and children's areas not currently available.
I have visited the Royal Hobart Hospital women's ward. It is one of the poorest areas in the whole campus and is part of the exciting new redevelopment. We are now in the final year of that and this Government has committed to staffing and opening those beds. We are providing nearly 300 additional beds over the next six years and, importantly, the women's and children's wards are a key part of that.
I will say it for Mr O'Byrne, who is not listening. Dr O'Keeffe is legitimately raising the concern, and I agree. We do not want to see cancellations and we acknowledge that. I hope that has answered your question.
To come back to the main point, it is incumbent on anybody who raises these issue to tell us what they would do better. Members opposite cannot do that. Members opposite have no plan. Even the White plan mark 7 did not have a solution for Dr O'Keeffe's concerns. Even version 7 of her health policy had no plan. There were no concrete commitments in Labor's plan for health. That is why they were rubbished at the election and why the White Opposition got the third-lowest vote in the Labor Party's history.
This side of the House is investing in health, reversing Labor's cuts and helping Tasmanians get the health care they deserve.