Budget to determine health spending

HEALTH Minister Michelle O'Byrne has responded to a push for a $70 million-plus ward upgrade at Launceston General Hospital, saying the state government will determine how to spend funds through the annual budget process.

Tasmanian Health Organisation North chief executive John Kirwan said last week he wanted all wards but one upgraded at the hospital, as they weren't air-conditioned and had few single rooms.

Mr Kirwan said single rooms were necessary to better treat palliative and other special needs patients, to help control the spread of infection, and reduce long stays in the emergency department.

He said THO North had also developed business cases for an integrated mental health facility in Launceston, improved staff accommodation near the LGH, a new hospital at St Helens, and the future of Beaconsfield hospital.

Ms O'Byrne said all government departments were realistic enough to know funding was limited.

She said the government had already signed a memorandum of understanding between THO North, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Break O'Day Council to look for alternative sites for St Helens Hospital, with planning work continuing.

"It has long been understood that Beaconsfield hospital is not an ideal configuration for caring for elderly patients," Ms O'Byrne said.

Opposition health spokesman Jeremy Rockliff said he would have more to say on health during the upcoming election campaign.

"But we've already announced a plan to invest an additional $76 million into health, which will open more beds and employ more doctors and nurses," Mr Rockliff said.

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