The Hodgman Liberal Government has demonstrated our commitment to addressing the many long-standing issues inherent in our broken health system.

We are implementing the crucial One Health System reforms, investing an additional $100 million in frontline health, and working with the Tasmanian Health Service on new initiatives such as the permanent pool of 40 nurses at the Royal Hobart Hospital we announced yesterday.

This proposal came from productive cooperation between hospital administration and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and Health And Community Services Union, though the recently established Double Shift Working Group.

I’ve asked THS management to work with staff at the Launceston General Hospital and the Double Shift Working Group to develop a Business Case for that hospital, and indeed for all other major hospitals. This will involve an assessment of nursing double shifts in each hospital.

Increasing the pool of nurses available has the potential to allow hospitals to flex up the number of beds available at times of higher demand.

The length of time patients have waited for admission to the LGH ED and then length of time spent in the LGH ED have been a long-standing issue which went completely unaddressed by the previous government.

Figures provided to the Legislative Council in 2013 showed that in 2011-12 there were 332 patients who had an ED stay longer than 48 hours, compared to just nine at the RHH. In 2012-13 it was 429 at the LGH compared to 17 at the RHH.

Nursing numbers increased in the northern region in 2014-15, but we must continue to look at ways to enable all of our hospitals to cope with peaks in demand, particularly in Emergency Departments.

I am advised by the THS that management at the LGH are working hard to assess patients who are suitable for discharge to free-up beds across the system, as well as working with private hospitals and rural sites to provide additional beds where appropriate.

Through the One Health System reforms and the clinical redesign project being led by Health Services Innovation the THS is working proactively on long-term strategies to improve the flow of patients through our hospitals.

With emergency department demand increasing rapidly at all hospitals across the country, we also need to find ways to ensure patients can receive timely and appropriate healthcare which prevents presentations to the Emergency Department for cases which would be more appropriately managed by GPs and other providers.
Michael Ferguson, Minister for Health