Surgeries up, but short of target

THE Launceston General Hospital has completed more than 60 additional elective surgeries since the state government provided an extra $1.76 million in funding on July 1.

But the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation remains skeptical that the hospital will achieve the estimated 349 extra surgeries by the end of October.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson announced in June that an additional $5.3 million would flow statewide from July 1, 2014, to October 31, 2014, to provide an estimated 673 extra surgeries.

Mr Ferguson said next week's budget would further deliver on the Liberals' promises, including an extra $76 million for elective surgery over four years.

As of Monday, the LGH had completed 61 extra surgeries - less than half that of the Royal Hobart Hospital, which had achieved 133.

ANMF state secretary Neroli Ellis said the additional funding was welcome, but she didn't think the LGH would meet the initial October estimate.

"When you've got theatres closed and you haven't got theatre staff, it does take a while to build up those services," Mrs Ellis said.

"All hospitals are increasing surgery throughput and more theatre capacity is coming on board but the full results will be seen early next calendar year."

Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson echoed Mrs Ellis's comments, and said he was concerned the pressure to prioritise elective surgery would have a flow-on effect on hospital emergency departments.

"The problem is that there are various pressures and levers in the health system and if you pull on one hard, it does compromise your ability to address the others," Mr Jacobson said.

Last month Mr Ferguson said the department would work with Tasmanian Health Organisation North to ensure it could deliver the additional elective surgeries.


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