A senior clinician has gatecrashed a press conference to grill Health Minister Michael Ferguson on the lack of beds and training opportunities for surgeons at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH).

Mr Ferguson and Speaker Sue Hickey were at the hospital to announce $4 million in State Government funding over two years which will attract $3.2 million of Federal Government funding to reduce the elective surgery waiting list for women’s surgeries.

However, the carefully managed press conference ran off course when Dr Frank O’Keeffe, a staff specialist at the Royal and college counsellor for obstetrics and gynaecology in Tasmania, jumped in at the end to ask his own question of Mr Ferguson.

Dr O’Keeffe expressed concern that although the Royal was a training hospital, its trainees had very few opportunities to perform major surgery.

“In fact, our numbers at the Royal Hobart Hospital are exceptionally low for major surgeries,” he said.

“And for our trainees to go forward and graduate [to] being capable surgeons, we need to be able to do major surgeries. They are not happening.”

Dr O’Keeffe said throwing money at the problem would not address the bed shortage.

“There’s plenty of staff but we do not have the beds to do the surgery, and it often gets cancelled. So until that is addressed, there’s still going to be a problem here,” he said …

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