The government will soon have 367 ventilators within the state in preparation for COVID-19 patients in hospitals, but only has 300 nursing staff qualified to provide care to ventilated patients.
Labor leader Rebecca White in Parliament on Tuesday took Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff to task on the health system's preparedness for borders reopening to the country and the inevitable emergence of the Delta strain of COVID-19 in Tasmania.
Labor's health spokeswoman Anita Dow questioned the ability of hospital intensive care units to respond to serious COVID-19 cases, citing health data from August which showed less than half of all emergency department patients were seen within the clinically recommended time frame.
Mr Rockliff said the state had a stockpile of 267 ventilators and would soon receive another 100, supplied through a partnership with the federal government.
"We also have more than 300 qualified and experienced nursing staff available to provide care to ventilated patients across the state," he said.
Mr Rockliff said a statewide COVID-19 intensive care unit surge capacity plan had been developed.
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"It aligns with other service-level escalation management plans and provides for a surge in ICU capacity for up to 114 beds statewide," he said.
Mr Rockliff said an intensive care bed space was defined as a ventilated bed space, staffed one nurse to one patient. "It is important to note that ICU capacity will vary from time to time, based on the funding and operational factors, including staff," he said.
"There are currently 34 operational, that is, funded and staffed ICU beds in Tasmania, comprised of 28 beds in the public system and six beds in the private system."
Premier Peter Gutwein accused Labor of playing politics with coronavirus after its line of questioning in Parliament.
Ms White later said the party was simply bringing forward community concerns and those from health workers.
We have heard from ordinary Tasmanians and frontline health staff who have genuine questions about how we will cope," she said.
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