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Monday, January 16, 2006

Latest hospital waiting lists must be released

Media Release

Shadow Minister for Health
Monday January 16, 2006

Shadow Health Minister Sue Napier today called on the Lennon Labor Government to release the elective surgery waiting lists for the December quarter, which must be published within ten days of the start of the new reporting period, or by the close of business today.

Mrs Napier said that as of the end of the September quarter, waiting lists were up 18 per cent since the Labor Government won office in 1998, with more than 7000 Tasmanians languishing on ever-increasing queues for surgery in the public hospital system.

She said the Tasmanian community deserved to know what inroads had been made into reducing these unacceptably high figures.

Mrs Napier said dramatic reductions needed to have occurred during the three months to December 31, given that it has now been well over a year since Labor announced its so-called Better Hospitals package.

“Public hospital waiting lists are a shameful indictment on the gross incompetence and warped priorities of the Lennon Labor Government,” Mrs Napier said.

“When Labor took office in 1998, there were 5973 Tasmanians waiting for elective surgery.

“Eight years on, and despite the Lennon Labor Government being the recipient of unprecedented windfalls as a result of the GST, taxation receipts and a booming national economy, waiting lists have gone substantially backwards with 7040 Tasmanians stuck on the lists as of the end of September 2005.

“These figures are also substantially lower than what the true state of hospital waiting lists would be if Labor would finally heed our repeated calls for it to release the blow-out in the number of people waiting to see a specialist the first step before they can even go on a waiting list.

“While other States such as WA have been open and upfront about these statistics, the Lennon Labor Government has refused to disclose them.

“We fully expect that were Labor to reveal the blow-out in the number of Tasmanians waiting to see a specialist, let alone actually get on our ballooning waiting lists were revealed, the official statistics would increase to more than 10,000 people”

Mrs Napier said Tasmanians should not have to put up with the worst waiting lists in the nation.

She said a Hidding Liberal Government would reduce hospital waiting lists through a range of policies some of them already announced, and others to be announced between now and the next election.

“Some of the initiatives announced already as part of the State Liberal Team’s plans to manage health better include:

· Establishing business-like high-level performance review panels in major public hospitals;
· Streamlining decision making in the health bureaucracy
· Splitting up the unwieldy health department to enable stronger focus and accountability in health
· Developing and implementing new benchmarks for elective surgery
· Undertaking a comprehensive health workforce recruitment and retention plan
· Investigating a salary nexus for health professionals
· Using private hospitals to help reduce waiting lists
· Reinstating agency nurses to help alleviate nursing shortages
· Undertaking an aggressive nursing recruitment drive
· Boost graduate nurse intakes and nurse educators
· Improving professional development for nurses, and allied health
· Dedicated scholarships for nurses

Many more initiatives to manage health better and reduce our hospital waiting lists under a Hidding Liberal Government will be announced between now and the State election.

For more information, please contact:
Georgia Warner (03) 6233 2370 or 0418 564 073



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