Blood on your hands: Wilkie

$100m health blowout

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - DAVID KIL­LICK Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

THE state’s health sys­tem blew its bud­get by more than $100 mil­lion last year, missed ev­ery tar­get it set for elec­tive surgery — and paid its top two bu­reau­crats half a mil­lion dol­lars each.

Premier Will Hodg­man told Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day the state’s health sys­tem was not per­form­ing ad­e­quately and the Gov­ern­ment ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Op­po­si­tion leader Re­becca White ap­pealed to him to re­verse bud­get cuts to health.

“Will you to­day com­mit to re­vers­ing your Gov­ern­ment’s cruel health cuts be­fore more peo­ple die?” she asked. A coroner’s inquest heard on Wed­nes­day that 1800 pa­tients who were ad­mit­ted to the Royal Ho­bart Hospi­tal last fi­nan­cial year spent more than 24 hours in the emer­gency depart­ment.

The Health Depart­ment’s an­nual re­port re­vealed it missed ev­ery key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tor for elec­tive surgery — in­clud­ing leav­ing at least one Cat­e­gory 1 pa­tient wait­ing 686 days for surgery that should have been done within 30 days.

Health Min­is­ter Sarah Court­ney was at a COAG meet­ing yes­ter­day, but Mr Hodg­man said he ac­knowl­edged the prob­lem his gov­ern­ment was work­ing to im­prove things.

“We as a gov­ern­ment ac­cept that our health sys­tem is not per­form­ing ad­e­quately, and we’ve never said that it is,” he said. “We do ac­cept that with a dra­matic in­crease in de­mand on our health sys­tem in re­cent years, de­mands on ca­pac­ity within our sys­tem, sig­nif­i­cant growth in pa­tient com­plex­ity over re­cent years, there is in­creased pres­sure on our health sys­tem.

“We ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for the state of our health sys­tem. We ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for de­liv­er­ing all these things that have hap­pened un­der this gov­ern­ment that are an im­prove­ment on our health sys­tem, that’s what we are do­ing.”

Mr Hodg­man said the Gov­ern­ment had in­vested heav­ily in health, hir­ing 450 ad­di­tional staff at the Royal Ho­bart Hospi­tal, in­clud­ing more than 200 nurses and al­most 100 doc­tors, and boosted staff num­bers in the emer­gency depart­ment by 34 per cent. Depart­ment sec­re­tary Michael Per­van’s salary pack­age was worth $498,000 last year, while chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer An­thony Lawler’s was worth $515,000.

Mr Per­van was shifted into Com­mu­ni­ties Tas­ma­nia in Au­gust in a reshuf­fle.

In­de­pen­dent fed­eral MP An­drew Wilkie said the sit­u­a­tion in the health sys­tem was un­ac­cept­able.

“It is sim­ply un­de­ni­able that Tas­ma­nian hos­pi­tals are among the worst per­form­ing in the coun­try, and this is re­sult­ing in un­nec­es­sary deaths and pro­tracted ill­nesses.

“The blood of ev­ery one of the vic­tims is on the State Gov­ern­ment’s hands.”

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