Hospitals fail to meet targets

THE AUSTRALIAN Medical Association of Tasmania says a new public hospital report shows how important health is as an election issue.

The AMA Public Hospital Report Card 2014, released yesterday, echoed earlier reports from the Department of Health and Human Services, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Productivity Commission that found Tasmanian hospitals were not meeting elective surgery and emergency benchmarks.

Association vice-president Tim Greenaway said only 41 per cent of elective surgery category 2 patients were admitted within the recommended timeframe last financial year, falling short of the national average of 68 per cent.

Associate Professor Greenaway said only 65 per cent of "urgent" Tasmanian emergency department patients were seen within the recommended 30 minutes, compared with the nationally agreed target of 80 per cent.

Opposition health spokesman Jeremy Rockliff said the report validated the Liberals' plan to introduce a $76 million elective surgery package, reopen closed beds, and hire more frontline staff.

Mr Rockliff said the party also planned to address AMA concerns that the elective surgery waitlist was longer than reported.

"The wait for elective surgery is much longer than reported in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare hospital statistics because the time patients spend waiting for specialist assessment is not counted - and is not made available," Mr Rockliff said.

"If elected, the Liberals will release this data as part of our transparent health and performance policy."

Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne said Tasmanian hospitals had improved their emergency department performance every year during the current term of government.

Ms O'Byrne said the elective surgery waiting list was also at its lowest since 2006, and significantly lower that New South Wales and the ACT.

"We have been targeting long- wait patients. While this does lead to an increase in elective surgery indicators, it means we are getting treatment to people who have waited longest," Ms O'Byrne said.

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