You are here

Ministerial Statement - Rebuilding the Health System

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Tags: Health, Mental Health

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam There is a lot to say about this announcement by the minister and I will return to the Premier's reference to mental health carers and the comments by Maxine Griffiths. They are pertinent to this whole area, especially as we have just had Carers Week.

I cannot help bringing to my gaze to one of the big silences in this document, which contains some very welcome announcements and I will go to those. But what is screamingly silent is the voice of patients, the voice of consumers and the voice of the community. From the figures the minister has provided us we know there has been a more than doubling in the number of patients accessing the Royal Hobart Hospital in the last 12 years and a 15 per cent increase in people who have moved from the emergency department to inpatients in the hospital in the last year.

This is presented by the Government as though it is a justification for why we need to put more money into acute and clinical settings, but it is evidence of the desperate need to reset the balance and put an equal focus on preventative health. While the minister is paying attention to the issues with the hospital, the beds and the front page, the driver for that - the attention to chronic illness in the community, support for people, education, public health, all the cuts that have happened in the preventative health area in this state under this Liberal Government - that is the reason, as well as the demographic factors of this state, but that is the primary reason we are having more people accessing acute hospital services. It is something we can fix. We can put downward pressure on the number of people going to hospital in a way that will keep them well for longer. People can have a happier and healthier life by having care in the community.

This provides essentially what I hear as a continuation of a siloed approach which has a focus on a clinical task force. I hope the minister can perhaps give more detail in his response - if you would provide one, minister - about whether the Clinical Planning Task Force he has established would have a voice for the consumer. I know the minister was at a health conference about three or four years ago where there was some important work presented from New Zealand and everyone at that health conference was signed up - clinicians, I think the minister, doctors and nurses and everybody who spoke - to the importance of having patient-led recovery and the socalled consumer voice. Actually, let us just talk about them as people - the person representing people as the patients but not as the doctors.

We have to always remember that when we are in a clinical environment we will necessarily be looking at clinical solutions. We have to do the clinical solutions right but we have to understand if you go to a surgeon, of course you are going to end up down the surgery pathway. If you go to a car mechanic, of course you are going to end up down a mechanical pathway. That may not be the best or the only approach. It certainly may not be the cheapest one and the one with the least complications. Obviously it depends on the situation. We need to have the services for when people need that particular work done, but it is also true that in the clinical task force setting, we need to have the voices connecting clinicians outside to the community, making sure there are allied health people on that committee. Will there be the people in the sector and the community speaking about all those other services on the clinical task force?

As this statement says, there has been a 35 per cent increase in people accessing mental health facilities at the Royal Hobart Hospital in the last year. This speaks to a failure in the system and what I believe Maxine Griffiths was referring to, the importance of moving into community- led recovery and community support for people. On that note, I draw the minister's attention to the fact that the mental health carers have, I understand, something like $200 000 in their annual budget. They asked for some more money last year and did not get an extra shekel - or dollar. Let us remember that this $200 000 is a pimple on the $11.5 million that will take until 2021 to get 12 beds for people. It is a tiny amount of that money. Meanwhile, between now and 2021 those people will be cared for in their homes by their families in the community.

If the minister, with a stroke of his pen, increased that to $11.3 million, that would make a massive difference today to those people with mental health distress and also to their carers, because we know it has a huge impact on their ability to go to work, it really does. It also has an effect on their own personal mental health, working and living with somebody every single day doing that care and when it gets too much sometimes they end up in psychosis at the ED. That is the sort of important work the minister could do in addition to the other things he has provided here.