Promise of more jobs for Launceston

JOB numbers flowing from Launceston becoming the state's health headquarters is unknown, but the city has been promised a boost.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson talked up his health plan when inspecting a new surgical theatre at Launceston General Hospital yesterday, but was short on specifics.

Mr Ferguson, who is based in Launceston, rejected Labor and Green claims that basing his proposed health organisation in Launceston was pork barrelling, instead saying it was about better patient outcomes.

He wants to merge the three Tasmanian Health Organisations into a Launceston-based Tasmanian Health Service.

When asked how many extra jobs that would bring for Launceston, he said it would mean a considerable number of senior managers.

And when asked what specific indicators he would use to measure the success of his plan, he said "access to better health services".

"I want to be satisfied that we have reduced our corporate overheads to the minimum that is required to be effective so that our resources can be prioritised to the patient," Mr Ferguson said.

He said the health system had to be unified to avoid "silly parochial politics" and division.

The Health Department, which is not being relocated to Launceston, would be restructured to make it "fit for function".

He said the THO merger would also deliver $21 million in savings, to be spent on patients.

Having the department and the new health service would split purchase and provision of services to improve professionalism, accountability and transparency.

Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic spoke beside Mr Ferguson and backed the plan, saying it would mean more efficient spending.

He rejected claims that the federal government was cutting health funding, saying spending would increase across the next few years, but there would be no vague funding promises, like Labor made.

University of Tasmania dean of health and THO North board member Denise Fassett also backed the changes, saying it would build on the good things being done already.

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