Doctor numbers down, wages up: report

A NEW report on Tasmania's public health system claims that the number of full- time doctors dropped by 21 per cent in the two years to 2013 - but the average salary paid to remaining doctors rose by an average of 31.5 per cent.

The report found a similar trend in the nursing workforce, where numbers fell by 6 per cent in the two years to June 2013 while the cost of employing each nurse rose by 12 per cent.

It was written by Hobart-based independent health analyst Martyn Goddard, who compiled and analysed figures already published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Australian Medical Association state president Tim Greenaway said he had not seen the raw data which formed the report, but it appeared to confirm the AMA's concerns about the amount of money spent to attract locum doctors to the state.

"The wages of salaried doctors in Tasmania have been frozen since 2011 so if the figures are true, the only way it can be explained is in the special deals," Dr Greenaway said.


"It's all because the award is so poor in Tasmania, people refuse to work under it.

"It would be much more preferable if the award was broadly competitive so doctors can be employed under that rather than under some special deals being done."

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Neroli Ellis said nurse wages were mainly rising due to a concerning increase in overtime.

"As an example, last month, 28 double shifts were worked in one ward alone at the Launceston General Hospital," Mrs Ellis said.

"If a nurse is working 17 hours straight, they're not providing the best possible care.

"And people are actually getting to the point where they're being asked on a daily basis to do double shifts or overtime, and they're tired."

Mr Goddard said the report showed the damage caused by 2011 budget cuts had not been repaired, with the hospital system at "crisis point".

"A fundamental redesign of the states hospital system is now urgent," Mr Goddard said.

"All aspects need to change, from overall governance to the way things are done on the wards.

"Above all, we must have a system which puts the Minister for Health in final charge."


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