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Matter of Public Importance - Health

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Tags: Health, Launceston General Hospital, Royal Hobart Hospital

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I have listened very carefully to the Minister for Health in that contribution. The way I feel when I hear him speak about our health system in Tasmania is the way I always feel, which is that he is completely out of touch with the scale of what is happening in Tasmania. He reels off numbers and words and makes piecemeal announcements: small fingers in the dyke. He never looks Tasmanians in the face and shows vision and leadership about the single most important issue in many peoples' lives. He never comes up with a vision and a budget and a plan that is in scale with what is happening.

What he is doing is a small-minded bureaucratic approach to putting little bits here and shifting things around there. He will open a ward and try to expand the size of the ramping area in the emergency department at the Royal Hobart Hospital, as if that is going to help when ambulances keep turning up and we have the slowest ambulance response times in the country. More than 40 per cent of LGH patients and more than 35 per cent of Royal Hobart Hospital patients sit in the ramp. Making the room bigger will not make any difference.

The number of emergency presentation times in Tasmania has gone down from 2018 when Jeremy Rockliff was in Cabinet but not the Health minister. In 2018, 72 per cent of people were seen on time in emergency departments. It is now 48 per cent. The worst in the country. The worst it has ever been. There has never been another state in Australia where emergency department presentations have been seen at such a low level as they are in Tasmania under this Liberal Government.

How dare you, Premier and Minister for Health, talk about things that happened a decade ago while you are spending your time and energy getting yourself and your party on the front page of the Mercury talking about a stadium that nobody in Tasmania wants. We have two stadiums in Tasmania that could both benefit from retrofitting. We have already sunk money into them and they are excellent. They could be better but we do not have the luxury of talking about perfect when it comes to stadiums in Tasmania when people are waiting in ambulances, if they can get one, ramped and unable to get a bed.

I want to pause and shift gear and remember that a woman died before Christmas without the dignity of being admitted into the Royal Hobart Hospital, without appropriate palliative care and without the space to herself in unbearable pain, cared for by two paramedics, who also had four other patients to care for. The safe ratio is one paramedic to one patient in emergency department ramping.

Under this Government, we have a dangerous situation on a daily basis in Tasmania's hospitals. Three quarters of patients admitted to hospitals waited for longer than four hours. The longest wait times are for elective surgery. This is what the Productivity Commission report found in February. We had the longest wait times for elective surgery. The Premier and Minister for Health talked just then about it being his signature contribution; his signature excellent effort for Tasmanians; something the Liberals can be proud of: fixing up the elective surgery waiting list.

Let me tell you, we have had an increase in the rate of emergency elective surgery patients with extended wait times. The Government failed on every single key performance indicator in their statewide Health Service indicators for 2021-22 in their elective surgery plan - every single one. There were 2507 people who did not get seen in the Liberals' election promise time period. The Premier disgracefully referred to that as a 'slight difference'- 2507, one of whom could have been the person that Ms Dow just mentioned who has progressed to stage 4 cancer because she was not seen on time for a colonoscopy.

The reality is that while the Premier jogs around the state puffing up with a new Brand Tasmania black T-shirt - 'Yeah, I'm a little bit David Walsh MOFO' - he should be down there working out a recruitment plan for nurses. He should be dealing with the reality of COVID 19, which is adding an incredible burden of disease in Tasmania. The science denialism of this Liberal Government - and the Labor Party. We have Dr Norman Swan making it really clear that we are in a dangerous situation. We have 30 per cent of Tasmanians who have not had their third dose yet. What is the Premier doing about it? Nothing. There is radio silence on COVID 19. It is about business as usual, but which businesses? The businesses the Premier is interested in pumping up the tyres of. He is not interested in the people with long COVID or the fake clinic that he established for them. He has his priorities completely backwards.