THOs told to cut their budgets

TASMANIA'S public hospitals again face the prospect of significant budget cuts.

Health and Community Services Union Tim Jacobson said Tasmanian Health Organisations had been given about a week to provide options to cut between 5 and 8 per cent of their budgets.

If applied across the entire health department, the cuts could equal the $100 million slashed from the health budget by the former Labor government in 2011.

Mr Jacobson said the THOs were contacted by Treasury earlier this week, and had until Wednesday to provide feedback, which would inform the state government's first budget.

He said THO-North chief executive John Kirwan had sent a memo to senior staff at the Launceston General Hospital on Wednesday seeking recommendations to achieve the proposed savings.

Mr Jacobson said the health system could not take any more cuts.

"I can't see how this would be achievable without major service changes," Mr Jacobson said.

"For any state government to think they can basically continue to use the department as an ATM and continue to withdraw money from it is deluded."

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Neroli Ellis said further cuts would decimate the health system.

"Clearly the government would have to make a very clear direction about which services and which hospitals go," Mrs Ellis said.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the government would not comment on the budget, except to say it intended to honour all its election commitments.

Opposition health spokeswoman Rebecca White called on Premier Will Hodgman to be open about his plans for the health budget, saying any cuts would be a betrayal of the Liberals' promise to protect front-line services.

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