In between a rock and a hard place - that's the best way to describe those involved (staff, politicians, patients) in Tasmania's health system.
The struggling system has been well documented in the many stories of emergency department ambulance ramping, bed block, nurse shortages and long waiting times for patients waiting for elective surgery.
While funding for the hospital is a complicated beast and comes from a variety of places, it is simply the case that the funding can not keep up with the increased demands. Tasmania is, as it is in many things, a different kettle of fish to its mainland cousin states, because it has unique population and geographic challenges.
A rapidly ageing population and disparate residential locations are a recipe for disaster for the health system and one that keeps snowballing as the weeks go on. What is clear is the system has met a deadlock and staff and patients are doing the best they can. What is needed is a way to upgrade and invest in infrastructure to support health services in Tasmania, something like a co-located private hospital at the Launceston General Hospital perhaps? Wilkie, who is seeking a Productivity Commission inquiry into the health system, and is meeting with the federal Treasurer next week, has said that the deadlock needs to be broken.
Infrastructure investment needs to come from somewhere and it's clear that the state does not have the funds to fix it - so perhaps a restructure of federal funding for health or further collaboration between levels of government? However, it's not just infrastructure failings - the latest Auditor-General report has shone a spotlight on the failings of specialist staffing and time management across all four of Tasmania's hospitals.
Auditor-General Rod Whitehead said in his report that there was a clear lack of transparency and accountability around this staffing in particular across anesthetics and surgery and general medicine.
What needs to happen, is some surety for patients and staff who are doing their best in a bad situation and some concrete runs on the board - not more reports that tell us what we already know.