TASMANIAN public hospitals could save at least $105 million a year if services were as efficient as their interstate equivalents instead of 20 per cent higher than the national average, says state health analyst Martyn Goddard.
Mr Goddard said yesterday there was no excuse for Tasmania's "lamentable", public hospital service delivery performance, which he found the worst in the country, even behind the Northern Territory.
He wants two new public elective surgery hospitals set up in existing Calvary facilities in Launceston and Hobart to free up the acute care facilities for emergency and intensive care.
He also called on government to set up a consortium with Victoria to buy hospital drugs and supplies, which he said would immediately save $50 million a year.
The former national health policy spokesman was commenting after the release of his 32-page paper on the economic efficiency of the state's public hospital, which has taken him three months to prepare.
"According to the best available data, Tasmania has the nation's least economically efficient public hospital system," he said.
"None of the usual excuses work - the Royal Hobart and the Launceston General hospitals, which account for the majority of patients, are not small outfits. They are in the national mid-range.
"If Tasmanian hospitals had been at least as efficient as the national average, $101.5 million would have been saved in the year [2010-11] and another 20,600 patient services delivered," Mr Goddard said.
Mr Goddard also found that:
More than one third of staff in the three new Tasmanian Health Organisations now running the public hospitals are paid under the state Health and Human Services award as public servants. One in five of the staff employed in hospitals are clerks or administrators - almost as many administrators as nurses and several times as many clerks as doctors.
Between 2010-11 and 2011-12 the Southern health organisation - the only one for which even limited data was available - the number of clerks and administrators were reduced by 2 per cent, the number of nurses by 8.5 per cent, doctors by 5.6 per cent and allied health professional by 5.1 per cent.
Most of the added expense of the Tasmanian system compared with other states comes from the high costs of staff.
"There has been an extraordinarily high reliance on expensive agency nurses and locum doctors and on paying staff overtime," he said.
Hospital-initiated elective surgery cancellation is unacceptably high compared with other states.
"The overall rate of procedures being cancelled is about 19 per cent with about 6 per cent of all operations cancelled after the patient has been admitted," Mr Goddard said.
Tasmania's hospital service costs have grown from mid-range nationally in 1996-97 to the most expensive. In nine of the 15 years since 1996-97, Tasmania's percentage cost increase has been higher than the national average growing by 122.3 per cent against the national average of 97 per cent.