TASMANIAN health organisations yesterday called on the government to find the funding for public hospitals to open theatres closed by cost-cutting instead of setting up separate elective surgery facilities.
Operating theatres across the three regions were shut down as one of the measures used by the three acute care facilities to meet the largest-ever budget cost cutting demands by the state government last financial year.
Northern Tasmania's Launceston General Hospital still has two of its six theatres and the supporting surgery units closed.
The health groups were commenting on one of the main recommendations from Tasmanian independent health analyst Martyn Goddard's report into the financial efficiency of the state's public hospitals released this week.
Mr Goddard called on the government to explore separating elective surgery from emergency in public hospitals.
His preference was to establish new elective-only surgery units in empty space within existing private hospitals in Launceston and Hobart.
Calvary Health Care Tasmania chief executive Grant Musgrave said the private hospital provider was interested in talking with the state government about such an arrangement.
He said Launceston's Calvary St Vincents had the capacity for a separate public unit.
"We have the St James ward which used to be a rehabilitation ward which is currently closed, " Mr Musgrave said.
"We have the capacity to add another floor to the building and there is also a big area at the back of St Johns that we use for storage so that we have the room for a central sterilising unit upstairs and a theatre space downstairs."
Health and Community Services Union assistant state secretary Tim Jacobson said the public system already had the capacity to do the extra elective surgery needed to make it efficient.
"We've got new theatres at the LGH and will soon have them at the Royal Hobart Hospital and there is also the capacity at the Mersey," Mr Jacobson said.
"We have the capacity - we just need the government funding to open the theatres that have been closed ... and put the staff back into theatres."
Australian Medical Association Northern Tasmania spokesman Glenn Richardson said transferring a chunk of elective surgery into the private sector would not be an incentive for people to have private hospital cover.