Health Minister announces $1.5 million support package for emergency departments

Health Minister Michael Ferguson. Picture: Paul Scambler
Health Minister Michael Ferguson. Picture: Paul Scambler

The government will fund a $1.5 million, six month support package designed to reduce pressures at Launceston General and Royal Hobart hospital emergency departments. 

Health Minister Michael Ferguson made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the funding would support frontline staff and improve patient flow. 

It follows months of industrial action by Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation union members.

Mr Ferguson said the government understood the increasing pressures facing hospital staff and was working towards a long-term solution. 

“The government recognises that no one can predict demand, especially increase in demand, and anybody that presents that this is a simple problem with a simple solution is just wrong,” he said. 

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Initiatives of the package include patient flow support teams, increased on-call resources and extended hours for pathology services. 

ANMF Tasmania branch secretary Emily Shepherd welcomed the announcement, but said it did not address the hospital’s fundamental issue of bed-block. 

Health Minister Michael Ferguson.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson.

“It is great to see the minister come out and acknowledge the issues, particularly for our members who have been campaigning everyday,” she said. 

“Our concern is that this support package is only for a six month period. What happens after that time?

“Issues in the emergency department need long term solutions and that is always going to come back to a need for more beds.”   

Mr Ferguson said the package had been developed by Department of Health secretary Michael Pervan, who will work with staff to implement the initiatives. 

However Deputy Labor leader Michelle O’Byrne said the Health Minister had failed to listen to the concerns of hospital workers. 

“Quite frankly $1.5 million across two hospitals, to deal with the crisis they are dealing with, is simply not going to go far enough,” she said.

“I think the minister needs to genuinely sit down with his workforce and start listening to the suggestions they have.

“Anyone who thinks this is any kind of political game should just go and spend a couple of hours in the hospital, to see the pressure they are under.”

The $1.5 million will be shared evenly between LGH and RHH. The government has committed to put $757 million into the overall health budget, over six years. 

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