Addressing bed block and under-staffing at Launceston General Hospital must treated with the highest priority, if an exodus of senior doctors is to be avoided, the state's peak medical body has warned.
The Australian Medical Association Tasmania branch will meet with LGH staff and management on Wednesday to discuss workload concerns.
It comes in response to a letter signed by almost two dozen of the hospital's senior registrars to the state government, warning patients were dying unnecessarily with the hospital at its lowest ebb ever.
IN OTHER NEWS:
- Canberra Airport set to strike deal with Tasmania for holiday makers
- Bryher owners call it a day, passing the local produce baton to new wine bar
- Jail time adds up for Michael Samuel Charlesworth
- Union threatens to take Tasmanian Government to industrial commission
- COVID-19 tests recommended if experiencing hay fever symptoms
This week the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Tasmania branch also threatened to take the state government to the industrial commission, unless a special panel is appointed to resolve workload issues at the LGH.
AMA Tasmania president Helen McArdle described the letter as an act of desperation and said staff needed to be listened to.
"As soon as you start getting low morale, then people don't want to come to work. People get burnt out, people may even leave," she said.
"We know a few years ago the LGH had a problem with their emergency department when quite a number of the senior staff left, just because they said they couldn't cope anymore.
"We don't want that to happen because then recruiting new staff would be very difficult.
"I would hope we won't see a mass exodus... people will usually hang in and keep trying to improve the situation, if they believe they are being listened to."
Last year a survey conducted by the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine showed LGH was the country's worst hospital for patient access block.
Access block occurs when admitted patients needing a hospital bed are delayed from leaving the emergency department because of a lack of inpatient bed capacity.
ACEM Tasmania faculty chairman Dr Juan Carlos Ascencio-Lane said they were aware of the ongoing concerns at the LGH and were closely monitoring the situation.
"These are very challenging times and we are eager to see systemic solutions quickly, which address the longstanding issues and improve the situation for patients and staff," he said.
"ACEM remains committed to working with the government, staff and hospital management, and we are hopeful that a working solution discussed with the health department, which includes additional resourcing and patient flow teams, will help address what are urgent matters of patient and staff safety."
Dr McArdle said staffing levels and recruitment remained key issues in Tasmania, but it didn't all come down to money.
"Access block has been a problem at the LGH for a while. It's probably been compounded by COVID. Only to the extent that it's difficult to get full staff in," she said.
"When we are talking about solutions, without funding you can't increase your staffing levels.
"But it's not always as easy as just money. You need to be able to recruit staff and retain them.
"At the moment we [AMA] are playing a supportive role, rather than an antagonistic role. Because it is a problem that needs everyone to work on it, if we are going to solve it."
The government says it has employed an 440 full-time equivalent staff at the LGH, along with further infrastructure investments.