Tasmanians who have spent years on waiting lists for elective surgery will finally get treatment under a $26 million partnership between the Tasmanian and Commonwealth Governments. The Department of Health & Human Services will soon release a tender to establish a panel of public and private surgery providers to treat Tasmanians who have been on waiting lists for up to ten years.

A key component of the National Partnership Agreement on Improving Health Services in Tasmania Action Plan signed with the Commonwealth in August last year consists of the purchasing of additional elective surgery and non-surgical procedures to treat long-wait patients. As a result of this agreement $25.9 million has been made available to support this activity.

The patients targeted under this initiative are those patients who are on waiting lists but have not been scheduled to receive their surgery in Tasmanian public hospitals.

This is a valuable opportunity to finally get people who have waited for treatment for up to ten years off the waiting list and into treatment. It will complement the critical work we are currently doing to fix the broken health system and ensure better services are available for all Tasmanians.

In Tasmania we have a completely unacceptable situation where people have waited for up to 10 years for elective surgery. In 2013-14 11.5 per cent of all Tasmanian elective surgery patients waited longer than 365 days for their surgery, compared with 2.4 per cent nationally.

There are currently around 35,000 Tasmanians waiting for care, including more than 26,000 on outpatient lists hidden from the public under the previous government.

It is expected that the establishment of a panel of elective surgery providers will provide the capacity to undertake significant volumes of surgery, well beyond what can be achieved in our public hospitals. With our public hospitals operating at capacity, this additional funding to utilise other providers gives us the chance to reduce waiting lists and get people the help they have been waiting for.

It is possible that interstate providers may be able to assist Tasmanian services in doing this and obtaining participation from interstate as well as Tasmanian providers allows us options if Tasmanian services are unavailable.

Getting people who have waited too long for treatment into surgery was a key election commitment for the Hodgman Liberal Government and that’s what this program will achieve.

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