Tasmanian Times


Ferguson and the great hospital funding trick

Michael Ferguson ... from his Facebook page

The Health Minister, Michael Ferguson, has announced the government is increasing hospital funding by $105 million

It was, he said, an acknowledgment of increased patient demand.

“Investing these extra funds … is the result of increasing patient demand for our services,” Mr Ferguson said in a press release. “Health is by its nature demand driven and our public hospital Eds never close their doors.”

But a closer look reveals the announcement is an accounting trick.

The money is already spent. It will not allow hospitals to buy anything they are not already buying. It will not employ more staff or increase the capacity of hospitals to treat patients.

Every year, the line-item for health in the budget is around $100 million less than actual expenditure turns out to be. As patients keep coming through the doors, the Tasmanian Health Service has to be topped up every year. Normally there are two or three amendments to the annual service agreement to accommodate this.

A recently leaked report from the consultants KPMG and RDME reports showed that the funding gap between the allocation for the THS in the budget, and the minimum amount that actually needed to be spent, was around $100 million. That’s what this is, and it’s been going on for a long time.

Under-estimating health costs in the budget makes the surplus look better.

Mr Ferguson’s statement reveals an apparent surprise at the scale of the increasing workload being faced by hospital staff. But it should not be a surprise to any competent health minister. It should, instead, have been planned for.

Patient demand has been growing statewide by around 5% a year for several years. It is predictable. The fact that the number of patients has recently been growing more slowly  than usual is not because there are fewer sick people but because the hospitals are full.

If there was $105 million in genuinely new money going into health, the government would be able to tell us the specifics of what it would be spent on. They haven’t because they can’t.

This is no more than a line in a press release. It will not alleviate any of the current pressures on the state’s hospitals or avert any of the scandals yet to come.

Martyn Goddard is a public policy analyst based in Hobart.

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  1. Russell

    December 3, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Moderator …“Free word processors can be downloaded from the Web and be set to write in ‘Australian English’ (preferred)”

    That just makes them even lazier and even more illiterate. Most don’t even have the reading skills or inclination to be able or even bother looking for the Australian, English or whatever version is applicable.

    What happens when they need to fill in their application for the dole without the aid of a computer and can only sign it with a cross or fingerprint when no-one wants to employ them because of their inability to write and read?

    School is where children are expected to learn .. not in a program or app having to do it for them.

    It’s probably all part of the deliberate dumbing down of our sheeplike society. Baaaaaaah.

  2. Dave Parsell

    November 30, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    What a bunch of charlottans these people running the State are!


    Dave, please use a spellchecker and re-submit.

    — Moderator

    • Russell

      December 2, 2018 at 9:10 am

      Moderator … that’s how ‘English’ is taught in under-funded and under-educated schools now. Spell as you think it sounds … don’t worry if it’s correct or not. The main thing is to just try and move them on to the next grade to receive your next year’s funding. Spellcheckers only make people even more lazy, useless and illiterate. And most of them use American ‘English’, which is incorrect. Politicians and journalists are the worst offenders for incorrect grammar.

      That’s why we have so many morons in Government who haven’t a clue about what they’re doing. All they do is repeat the latest Party catch-cry, slogan or lie, and keep the false promises spewing forth.


      Thankyou, Russell.

      The average standard of English expression presented to TT in submitted Comments makes Moderation a frustrating, demanding and time consuming task. Every Comment, except a tiny percentage, requires editing to the high standard now evident.

      It seems the main cause for this inconsideration is contributor laziness .. laziness in not checking text drafts for obvious errors, and laziness in refusing to try and do better through further secondary school, or even primary school, education in English. Those with a poor education usually have access to nearby assistance.

      What Tasmanian schools have failed to do can now be done privately online to extended learner benefit. Free word processors can be downloaded from the Web and be set to write in ‘Australian English’ (preferred) or ‘UK English’ with the ‘US English’ choice ignored. The use of words such as ‘modernized’ and ‘organized’ (US) instead of ‘modernised’ and ‘organised’ is not welcome here.

      It’s a fact that a well presented submission is indicative of a well organised mind, and that such Comments therefore have more credibility, and hence more value to our readers and others. Tasmanian Times is not social media such as Facebook.

      TT’s Moderators may delete submissions, or sections thereof, indicating (a) laziness (b) inebriation (c) tiredness (e) stupidity (f) absurdity (g) silliness (h) unnecessary complexity (i) verbosity, and (j) miscellaneous abuses of privilege such as Comment bombardment.

      These are in addition to the prohibitions in TT’s Code of Conduct: https://tasmaniantimes.com/the-legal-bits/

      — Moderator

  3. Russell

    November 28, 2018 at 6:15 am

    Ferguson is useless. All we hear are non-factual slogans and “We’re putting millions of dollars into health, and advertising for more nurses and doctors.”

    Well Michael, Tasmania is losing all its health staff because it is overworked and severely underpaid, and no-one is answering those advertisements for those very reasons.

    Stop wasting all our tax dollars on forestry, gambling, football teams and maaaates.

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