Cash pledge for away surgery

ELECTIVE surgery patients will be able to have procedures at an alternative hospital with a smaller waiting list under a re- elected Labor Government.

The state Labor party yesterday released further details of their $10 million funding pledge for elective surgery.

Premier Lara Giddings said they would invest $10 million over two years to increase the number of procedures, and bolster the Patient Travel Assistance Scheme.

Ms Giddings said this would give patients the option of travelling for surgery at a hospital with a smaller waiting list, with the increased investment in PTAS ensuring travel and accommodation assistance.

She said the policy would target people who had been waiting longer than clinically recommended, initially in particular areas such as total knee replacements.

"Those people who are interested will go onto a pooled waiting list to be treated on an `in turn' principle," Ms Giddings said.

"Patients will stay on both lists - there should be no concerns about the potential to `lose your place'."

Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne said activity levels agreed to through service level agreements of the Commonwealth Health Assistance Package would not be affected, meaning individual Tasmanian Health Organisations would not see activity taken away.

"But it will be an incentive because those hospitals that manage their lists well and have capacity will be able to attract additional activity and the funding that comes with it," Ms O'Byrne said.

Opposition health spokesman Jeremy Rockliff said the policy was an admission that Labor and the Greens had failed on elective surgery, and that waiting lists had blown out after health cuts.

"Only the Liberals have a plan to inject $76 million into frontline health services," Mr Rockliff said.

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