TASMANIA is already in discussion with Victoria over partnering to buy medical and drug supplies in bulk to save costs, state Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne said yesterday.
Ms O'Byrne said that it would take some time to set up the new system because existing contracts needed to expire.
``Breaking these contracts would end up costing more,'' Ms O'Byrne said.
Her surprise announcement came when she was asked for comment on independent health analyst Martyn Goddard's report on the economic efficiency of Tasmanian public hospitals, released this week.
One of the two main recommendations from the report, which took the Tasmanian analyst three months to compile, was to set up a purchasing consortium with Victoria, with hospitals in both states ordering from national wholesalers according to common lists.
Mr Goddard said that Tasmania could save more than $50 million a year by bulk-buying with Victoria.
Health and Community Services Union assistant state secretary Tim Jacobson said that the proposed purchasing unit had merit but should not just be limited to the medical domain.
``You can make savings in this way more broadly across the public sector,'' he said.
``In terms of IT and software buying, there could be a massive saving.''
Mr Jacobson said that health unions had discussed the proposal with government before the major health budget cost-cutting was introduced in 2011.
Both the Australian Medical Association Tasmanian division and the Tasmanian Greens said that Mr Goddard's report underlining the economic inefficiency of the state's public hospital system strengthened the case for a single-funded health model.
Ms O'Byrne said that the Victorian government also recognised the potential benefits of a joint buying arrangement with Tasmania.