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St Helens Private Hospital - Effect of Closure

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 1 June 2023

Tags: Health, Mental Health, Hospitals


I listened closely to your answer to the question about the loss of essential services at St Helens Private Hospital. The two psychiatrists, Dr Rybak and Dr Turnier-Shea, have between them more than 3000 patients. Most are moderately to severely unwell, and they are closing their books in just a couple of weeks for good because they cannot see how they can safely continue the kind of practices they have been providing without the specialist support services of St Helens Private Hospital.

You said that someone in your department had spoken to them but they are on the record today as saying that they have not had a conversation with anyone and they have at no stage been invited into those conversations. We should be the first people to know what our patients need and what will and will not work.

Yesterday you released the Government's master plan for the redevelopment of St Johns Park. It will not be completed until 2025 at the earliest. Your political story is built on mental health. What do you expect the many thousands of patients in desperate need to do for two years without these psychiatric carers, the 31 beds and the outpatient services of St Helens?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. We all agree and understand the seriousness of the circumstances that have been presented to us as a result of the closure of St Helens Private Hospital. We are working with Healthscope and other providers collaboratively to minimise the impact on patients once Healthscope's private hospital in Hobart, very disappointedly, shuts its doors in late June.

We have already announced that we will establish a new public mother and baby unit at the Royal Hobart Hospital, which will see the continuation of this important service. This is in addition to supports available through our Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service and Child Health and Parenting Service. We are working with two private providers, including the Hobart Clinic, to establish the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Service within the public system. The Hobart Clinic is also working with private psychiatrists and the Department of Health to transition in-patient and day programs from St Helens Private Hospital to their centres in the Hobart CBD and Rokeby. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) services, will continue to be provided through the Hobart Day Surgery, with patients under the care of the Hobart Clinic. The capacity of these services will be expanded to match any increase in demand.

Dr Woodruff - But not next month, not for years.

Mr SPEAKER - Member for Franklin, order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - We welcome Clarity Health Care that has just opened its doors in the south of the state and commenced its Mind Care Choices program, which will treat many patients in the comfort of their own home. This will add the equivalent capacity of approximately 20 virtual beds to the private health care system in Tasmania. Some of the areas of their practice specialties include PTSD and acute stress trauma, substance abuse, perinatal psychiatry, mood, anxiety and personality disorders, and adolescent mental health.

In the public system, the recent opening of the Peacock Centre, which includes 12 inpatient beds, has released a further six mental health in patient beds at the Royal Hobart Hospital - the Mental Health Short Stay Unit - if required. Our public mental health service has 192 beds in total across Tasmania to support Tasmanians who require acute in patient mental health treatment and care as well as options in extended care and community-based services, with more planned to come online in the future.

Our Government's new St Johns Park facility in New Town will deliver a further 27 beds, once completed - 12 for eating disorders and 15 for general mental health. We have committed more broadly to two new mental health precincts in the north and the north west, which will co-locate inpatient and community mental health services. That is an investment of $120 million. I am always willing to engage with health professionals across our service.