Extra surgeries at LGH in doubt

HEALTH insiders are sceptical that the Launceston General Hospital will be able to deliver additional elective surgeries estimated by Health Minister Michael Ferguson.

State Health Minister Michael Ferguson outside the LGH.

State Health Minister Michael Ferguson outside the LGH.

Mr Ferguson announced last month that the state government would give an additional $1.765 million to Tasmanian Health Organisation North to deliver an extra 349 elective surgeries by October 31, 2014.

Statewide, he said the government would provide $5.3 million, allowing for an estimated 673 additional surgeries.

However, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Neroli Ellis said she was not convinced hospitals had the capacity to provide that many extra surgeries in four months, despite the funding boost.

Mrs Ellis said the LGH had limited surgical theatres available while capital works continued, and had lost surgical nurses to budget cuts.

``They will need additional staff because they will have to open up additional beds and open up additional theatre capacity _ on top of business as usual,'' Mrs Ellis said. ``We know that there's not hundreds of theatre nurses waiting out there to be employed.''

Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson echoed Mrs Ellis's comments, saying he did not think hospitals could meet the estimated target.

Mr Jacobson said hospitals could do a lot of low-level surgeries, but knocking over more complex surgeries like hip and knee replacements would have a greater long-term impact.

Australian Medical Association Tasmania state president Tim Greenaway said he always welcomed funding for elective surgery, but it was not yet known how federal budget cuts would affect the ability of hospitals to deliver.

Mr Ferguson said the department would be working with THO North to ensure it could deliver the additional elective surgery.

THO North chief executive John Kirwan said that the hospital did have limited capacity due to capital works, but five new theatres would come online this month. According to earlier news reports, the four older theatres will then be out of use while they're renovated.

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