Stress at growing paediatric wait list

A TASMANIAN health union says staff are under immense pressure and parents desperate as the waiting list at Launceston General Hospital's paediatrician outpatient clinic grows.

The retirement of a private Launceston paediatrician has increased demand at the clinic, with some children reportedly waiting longer than six months for an appointment.

Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson said the situation was "critical", with parents concerned that their children's conditions were worsening while they waited.

Mr Jacobson there were up to 280 children on the waiting list, and about half were believed to be on medication for behavioural conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.

He said some of these children were running out of medications as they waited for appointments, exacerbating behavioural problems and affecting their schooling as teachers struggled to cope with them.

Mr Jacobson said parents were extremely stressed and family relationships were breaking down.

"It's a diabolical situation for people to be in, and it's extraordinary to the extent that the problem isn't necessarily a problem with the public health system, it's a problem with the private system essentially failing people in the North of the state," Mr Jacobson said.

"Obviously as time goes on, you would assume that the waiting list is going to get longer and longer."

Mr Jacobson said the state government needed to do more to try to attract another private paediatrician to the region.

A state government spokeswoman said that while it was not the government's responsibility to involve itself in private practice decisions, the retirement of a private doctor was having an impact on public waiting lists.

"Ideally, a new private specialist will be attracted to Tasmania in the near future," the spokeswoman said.

"In the meantime, we will work with the LGH to try to find ways to address the shortfall of paediatricians for the Northern community."


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