Hospitals guaranteed - but not jobs

Andrew Wilkie

Andrew Wilkie

THE government has ruled out closing any of the state’s public hospitals in an overhaul of Tasmania’s health system.

But uncertainty remains over how many jobs will go when Tasmania’s three regional health bureaucracies merge next year.

Denison independent MHR Andrew Wilkie said yesterday four public hospitals were too many in a state of just 512,000 people.

Mr Wilkie called on the government to close one of three public hospitals in the north of the state.

He told ABC Radio that if one of Tasmania’s hospitals were closed, the state’s three remaining hospitals would be better funded and more efficient.

However, Health Minister Michael Ferguson ruled out the idea.

‘‘I don’t think Tasmanians should be sold a line on this that closing a hospital is the answer to providing better access to Tasmanians,’’ Mr Ferguson said.

‘‘We’ve been very clear on this – hospitals will not close as a result of reforms that we’ve announced.’’

Opposition health spokeswoman Rebecca White said the number of Tasmanian hospitals should not be the focus of attention in a shake-up of the state’s health system.

‘‘I don’t think the number of hospitals necessarily equates to how much money you spend in a system,’’ Ms White said.

But Ms White called on the government to announce how many jobs would go through amalgamating the state’s three THOs.

‘‘If you’re making a $21 million saving over the forward estimates, how many jobs does that equate to,’’ she said.

‘‘I will be seeking an urgent briefing from the minister to further understand what these changes mean and how many jobs will be lost.’’

Mr Ferguson would not be drawn yesterday on how many jobs would be shed.

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