Tasmania needs more hospital beds not less

Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has in a speech to parliament last night called on the Tasmanian State Liberal government to open more hospital beds not close them.

“Last night I told the parliament that - The latest State Liberal government’s health white paper is nothing more than a cleaver white wash. It is political propaganda.

The liberal state government has used a slick advertising campaign, (at taxpayers expense) to cover up their plan to downgrade and close two public hospitals in Tasmania’s North West (Burnie and Devonport-Mersey)

And in doing so decrease even further the availability of acute care public hospital beds and associated medical professional support for people in Devonport, Ulverstone, Burnie, Wynyard, Smithton, Stanley, Woolnorth, Zeehan, Strahan, Rosebury and Queenstown.

All signs in the health white paper indicate that future conservative governments will consolidate Tasmanian tertiary public health care into two public hospitals at Launceston and Hobart.

A Tasmanian Commission of Health report released last year shows that our public hospital bed per thousand-population ratio was at 2.35.

This compares with the National average of 2.6 reported by the AMA (Australian Medical Association)

If Tasmania were to increase the number of fully funded and resourced public hospital beds to match the Australian average of 2.6 public beds per 1000 head of population…

.. it means that with a state population of about 513,000  – the number of public hospital beds should be 1333.8

Given that last year’s Commission of Health report shows that there are only a total of 1188 public beds available for sick Tasmanians requiring medical treatment in a hospital, that means just to catch up to the Australian mainland average the Tasmanian government needs to open another 145.8 public hospital beds.

Its estimated that each funded and resourced public hospital bed costs about $1m each year to run, so in order to provide the same level of health care as the mainland - Tasmania needs to invest $146M extra into its annual Tasmanian Health Organization’s Budget of $627.639M  - an increase of annual funding by 23 %.

Question - Who will increase the number of Tasmania’s funded and resourced public hospital beds by 146 – so that we can at least catch up to mainland average bed numbers?

Answer – Not the Liberals because their health white paper is nothing but a sly, slick plan to eventually close down all public beds in the NW of Tasmania and consolidate acute care to two hospitals - Launceston and Hobart General hospital – which are by the way operating at 100% capacity and in crisis as well.

Given the criminal lack of funded, resourced, staffed acute care hospital beds – and no plan to address that fundamental problem - it will come as no surprise when you hear that Tasmanians are:

1.      waiting 4 times longer than other Australians for elective surgery

2.      and are dying on average between 1 and 2 years before main land Australians.

And tonight I call on the Liberal State government to stop the lies, propaganda and madness contained in their health white paper…

Come up with a plan which guarantees that public health survives in Tasmania’s North West, instead of the bureaucratic rubbish which guarantees the gradual destruction of public health.


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