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Over $475 million to improve health and hospital infrastructure

The Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to delivering better health infrastructure for all Tasmanians.

The State Budget includes over $475 million to take health in this state to the next level.

Importantly, our capital upgrades includes almost $280 million to finalise the vital $689 million Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment. The project remains on track for practical completion in mid-2019.

$162 million will deliver an infrastructure boost at all 4 of Tasmania’s major hospitals over the next 6 years. This includes:

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Calls for helipad construction tenders for Mersey Community Hospital

The Hodgman Liberal Government is delivering on our commitment to establish Tasmania’s first integrated medical and search and rescue helicopter service.

The construction tender for the new $1.5 million helipad at the Mersey Community Hospital is advertised in today’s paper.

The helipad will be located on site with a bridge link directly to the hospital.

For residents of the North-West, and most regional locations around Australia, aeromedical paramedic teams in helicopters are often the fastest means to provide emergency services.

This means every second counts, so this project is key infrastructure in the creation of a fast, high-acuity helicopter aeromedical retrieval network in Tasmania.

In the past, aeromedical teams arriving at the hospital to retrieve patients have had to land on a roundabout on the Bass Highway. This not only caused major traffic disruption but also raised serious safety issues at this busy location.

Construction is expected to begin in the coming weeks, once the tender is awarded.

The helipad at the North West Regional Hospital has been used 17 times since being commissioned. This should reassure the community that our plan to improve local health services is working and is helping save lives on the Coast.

The Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to delivering the state’s first ever dedicated medical and search helicopter service, which will have dedicated flight paramedics and specialist retrieval doctors.

The construction of the helipad is a key step towards the establishment of Tasmania’s first integrated medical and search and rescue helicopter service.

Improving alcohol and drug rehabilitation treatment

The Hodgman Liberal Government is further taking action to respond to the needs of the community in tackling alcohol and drug addiction.

In tomorrow’s three daily newspapers, the Government is seeking submissions on our plan to increase the number of residential beds for people with an alcohol or drug dependence across the state by 30, meaning clients would be able to access residential services from anywhere in Tasmania.

This is a $6 million election commitment over three years, with funds to be made available to an organisation or organisations, and staffed by qualified and skilled personnel. This is the biggest increase in treatment that the State has ever funded.

It will provide a structured therapeutic residential rehabilitation environment 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to address alcohol or drug misuse or dependence issues, including support for families and carers.

The Tasmanian Government has a strong plan to develop an Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) sector that is better able to assist and support vulnerable Tasmanians in their time of need.

The Government is working to ensure the AOD sector is fully informed as we develop an Alcohol and Other Drugs Service System Framework for Tasmania together. This framework is being developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the sector and Primary Health Tasmania, to guide service delivery into the future.

This commitment was part of a significant package taken to the election, with almost $10 million to bolster the AOD sector including:

  • $2.5 million to secure the 12 new residential rehabilitation beds in the North-West – established by the State Government in 2015 – for three additional years; and
  • $1 million for new community-based AOD supports and services.

Submissions from interested organisations to provide the additional 30 beds close on Friday, July 20.

More Mediscare tactics from Labor on health

Labor is once again attempting to reinvent the 2016 Mediscare campaign.

Of all the services provided through the health portfolio, Labor has chosen their biggest stuff up – elective surgery.

The facts are that the Hodgman Liberal Government has reduced waiting lists that blew out under the previous government and reversed the devastating cuts instigated by the secretive health budget cuts committee, which was chaired by Rebecca White when in government.

We are spending more money on elective surgery than ever before, and as a result, we’re seeing record low waiting lists.

In the upcoming budget, we’re allocating an additional $20 million to elective surgery to continue on the improvements we’ve already made.

We are successfully reducing elective surgery waiting times after years of neglect at the hands of Labor and the Greens, when people were forced to wait up to 10 years for their surgery.

The extra $20 million comes on top of the additional $76 million we delivered for elective surgery in our last term of Government. Unbelievably, Rebecca White opposed this funding.

She has since ditched the health portfolio and is now pretending she cares about people who, under the previous Labor-Green government, could have been waiting up to 4000 days for surgery.

Together with our federal Liberal colleagues, we are investing record funds into the Tasmanian health system.

Commonwealth funding for public hospitals in our state is increasing substantially, enabling us to employ more doctors, more nurses and fund more services to support patients.

Labor needs to stop playing politics with health to scare Tasmanians.

The fact is that under the Liberals, Tasmania’s waiting list is smaller and waiting times are shorter.

Local access for patients as telehealth rolls into towns

More Tasmanians will be able to access their health appointments locally with the rollout of video-enabled Computers on Wheels (CoWs).

Fifteen rural and remote communities across Tasmania will have access to this initiative of the Telehealth Expansion Project starting today at the Deloraine and Smithton district hospitals.

This is part of the Hodgman Liberal Government’s commitment to providing the right clinical care in the right place at the right time.

Telehealth enables patients to take less time off work or caring responsibilities, less travel and accommodation costs, and less time spent travelling.

In just two telehealth appointments, a recent patient from Smithton avoided more than 1600 kilometres and 20 hours travel time to get to their health professional in Hobart.

Another Launceston patient avoided 1200 kilometres and 15 hours travel time over three appointments.

CoWs will also be delivered this week to Beaconsfield and Georgetown on Thursday and Scottsdale and St Mary’s on Friday.

More will be rolled out to rural and remote communities over the coming months.

The CoWs are part of a suite of options available to Tasmanians who would otherwise have to travel for their appointments.

Video conferencing facilities are already available at many Tasmanian Health Service locations statewide, including outpatient clinics.

Patients are also able to use telehealth in their own home using a computer, tablet or smartphone that has a camera, microphone and speaker.

Patients who are required to access health services outside of their geographical area can ask their doctors if their condition is clinically appropriate for telehealth.

The Telehealth Expansion project is an initiative of the Delivering Safe and Sustainable Clinical Services White Paper. It was initiated to improve patient access to health services and reduce costs of transport.

Boosting Ambulance Tasmania’s State Operations Centre

The Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to supporting paramedics and improving ambulance response times in Tasmania.

We are delivering on our strong plan to support this important service by employing more staff at the Ambulance Tasmania State Operations Centre.

Recruitment of six additional full-time staff members is well underway, with successful applicants expected to be offered jobs in the coming weeks, and training due to begin shortly after that.

These six new staff members will help meet the growing demand for services, and are in addition to the increase of five full-time staff members in 2017-18.

The State Operations Centre receives about 5000 triple-0 calls each month, with a further 15,000 other calls also received each month.

The centre is integral to all aspects of ambulance service delivery. It is responsibility for coordination of emergency pre-hospital care and transport, medical and health escort services.

This is all part of our $125 million ambulance package over six years, which will help us reach our bold target of reducing response times.

As part of this important plan, we are recruiting an extra 62 paramedics and Operations Centre staff members – an increase of more than 15 per cent.

Ambulance Tasmania has recently recruited 22 paramedic interns, who will be stationed around the state. They are due to begin within a matter of weeks.

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