Report shows hospital doctor numbers have fallen

Health Minister Michael Ferguson has admitted the state's public health system ``is not travelling well'', following the release of a statewide report from an independent health analyst.

Talking to media in Launceston yesterday, Mr Ferguson blamed Labor for the sector's woes, after it was revealed the number of full-time doctors in Tasmania has dropped 21 per cent.

``This survey review relates specifically to June 13, which was all under a Labor government,'' he said.

``What it does is support our efforts to speak to Tasmanians and say to Tasmanians that we can give a better health system.

``We'll bring the leadership, but we have to have reform. That's why we've said all option are on the table  we can fix this mess.''

EARLIER: Hospital doctor numbers have fallen 21 per cent in two years, a new report of the state's public hospital performance has found.

Despite the drop of 206 doctors from hospitals, the report, released today by health policy analyst Martyn Goddard, found that average salaries paid to each remaining doctor rose by 31 per cent.

He attributed the salary lift to ``individual sweetheart deals'' that surgeons and some physicians had been able to negotiate with hospital administrators.

``For junior doctors, who are bearing an ever-greater share of responsibility for patient care, salaries have not moved,'' he said.

Nurse numbers fell by 167, or six per cent, but the cost of employing each remaining nurse rose by 12 per cent, mainly due to increased overtime.

In other findings:

 Key measures of the safety and quality of care show Tasmanian public hospitals are among the least safe in the country;

 Tasmania has far fewer hospital beds per capita than any other state or territory, and state hospitals treats far fewer patients, on a per capita basis, than any other state;

 Overall costs of running Tasmanian hospitals have risen substantially faster then the national average.

Mr Goddard said the report showed that the Tasmanian hospital system was at a crisis point.

``And with the further cuts outlined in the federal budget, that crisis is about to become even deeper,'' he said.

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