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Boosting our investment in health to secure Tasmania’s future

26 August 2021

Jeremy Rockliff MP

Minister for Health

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is delivering our strong plan to secure Tasmania’s future, which includes continuing to prioritise health with a record $10.7 billion investment over the next four years.

We recognise that despite significant investments in health, there are challenges due to increasing demand and the impact of COVID-19. That’s why the 2021-22 Tasmanian Budget includes $900 million more for our health system than last year’s Budget.

Our priority is ensuring Tasmanians get the right healthcare in the right place, at the right time, which isn’t necessarily in an emergency department or hospital bed.

This Budget will see us strengthen community-based care, a key priority in Our Healthcare Future. This includes a further $5 million to our GP After Hours Support initiative, taking the total to $8 million. This will enable more GP clinics and pharmacies to support people in their local communities after hours, providing more options for treatment and taking pressure off our emergency departments.

An additional $8 million is being provided to continue community-based healthcare initiatives, including funding to support the Cancer Council Tasmania, GP Assist, Epilepsy Tasmania, Hobart District Nurses and Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Educators.

We are also delivering on other priority areas, such as improving digital technology, with a $15 million down payment to start work on key focus areas of a 10-year Digital Health Transformation Plan. This initial phase will include the commencement of a range of health information initiatives, including electronic medical records, telehealth and virtual care.  This funding will also facilitate a pilot project to allow GPs appropriate access to medical information about patients in their care held by the Tasmanian Health Service.

Even with increased investments in community-based care and ill-health prevention, there will always be a need for acute care.

Additional funding of $198 million will be provided to meet increasing demand faced by our major hospitals and to support opening beds. This will enable the opening of more than 50 additional permanent beds across the State in 2021 to meet demand and to support the Government’s commitment to additional elective surgeries.  The beds will be brought online in a staged approach and the recruitment of staff will be supported by the Health Recruitment Taskforce.

During the 2021 Election, we announced $120 million in funding to deliver an additional 22,300 elective surgeries and endoscopies, to bring the waiting list down to a sustainable level.  That brought our elective surgery commitment to $156.4 million.

Now, we will deliver even more elective surgeries – another 7,000, on top of the 22,300 already committed, through a $40 million top up, with a total allocation of $196.4 million in the 2021-22 Budget.

This will support the delivery of our four-year elective surgery plan, and a total of nearly 30,000 additional elective surgeries and endoscopies, to ensure more Tasmanians receive their surgery within clinically recommended times.

To support our increase in elective surgery and other boosted and new services, we will employ up to 280 additional FTE health staff, including nurses, doctors, allied health staff and hospital support staff.

To enable us to meet growing workforce needs, funding of $15.7 million will support the implementation of Health Workforce 2040, which will be released in coming weeks. To improve the current workplace environment so the THS is considered a workplace of choice, we are also providing a $5 million boost. Additional funding of $18.3 million has also been secured to implement the safe staffing model for district hospitals resulting in a net increase in staff statewide, as well as an increase in the mix of skills available to those seeking care in rural and regional areas.

The 2021-22 Tasmanian Budget also delivers on our election commitments, which include:

  • $120 million for an additional 20,000 elective surgeries and 2,300 endoscopies;
  • $20 million to deliver care sooner for Tasmanians by enabling private hospitals to better support our public hospitals to manage demand;
  • $52 million to strengthen in-home palliative and community healthcare, including continuing our Community Rapid Response hospital-in-the-home services in all regions and support for Palliative Care Tasmania to continue their successful GP education and training programs. This also includes $1 million for a Hospital Avoidance Co-investment Fund to match private sector investment on a dollar-for-dollar basis to support capital upgrades for GPs and other primary care providers who expand or upgrade facilities to deliver improved after hours care;
  • $5 million to provide around 20,000 additional dental appointments statewide;
  • $2 million to support changes to the Access Scheme to medicinal cannabis, which will enable greater access;
  • $600,000 for the Heart Foundation to support patients following their hospitalisation for a heart attack or angina;
  • $600,000 to support cutting edge treatments for children with cancer; and
  • $346,000 to establish and deliver new women’s health services within Family Planning clinics.

The Government is delivering our plan for health with continued investment to ensure Tasmanians get the right care, in the right place at the right time, as we secure Tasmania’s future.