More than 150 Tasmanians who have been waiting on the elective surgery waiting list for too long will be fast tracked as part of the first tranche of a program to give patients access to private hospitals treatment established under a Tasmanian and Commonwealth Government partnership.

These Tasmanians will receive a letter this week inviting them to be assessed to have their surgery performed sooner at one of five private hospitals through the new Panel arrangements.

This program is part of the Hodgman Liberal Government long term plan to rebuild Tasmania’s health system.

We have invested a record amount in our health system, but to get better outcomes more needs to be done.

With the economy growing and the Budget coming back under control, we can now invest the dividends of this into the core business of government, such as health.
Under the One State, One Health System, Better Outcomes reforms we are changing the way our health system operates so we can get better results for Tasmanians.

Our plan to turn the Mersey into a dedicated elective surgery facility will free up beds in the other hospitals and will further reduce the number of cancellations.
To the end of December 2015, we had already spent more than $9 million of funding we negotiated with the Federal Government to provide more than 2,300 extra elective procedures, including in both Tasmanian public and private hospitals.

We have a more than $20m remaining to provide surgery and endoscopies for those patients who have waited the longest. This include funding for transport and accommodation and to progress elective surgery reform.

This funding is one-off and available for a limited time. As a result it is not feasible for public hospitals to take on additional short-staff in the short-term and use all of these funds in the available timeframe.

Using private providers, in addition to public services, gives us the chance to reduce waiting lists and get people the help they have been waiting for sooner. This is about getting the best outcomes for patients.

Every effort will be made to ensure an eligible person receives their surgery at the hospital closest to where they live, but in some circumstances it may be a requirement for them to have to travel to other areas of Tasmania or, less likely, to Melbourne. If a patient is required to travel, any travel or accommodation costs will be paid for by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Importantly, any person assessed as eligible to access surgery through this program will have no additional personal costs. The five elective surgery suppliers are:

• Calvary Health Care Tasmania
• Hobart Day Surgery Pty Ltd
• Healthe Care Burnie Pty Ltd Epworth Health Care, Melbourne
• Health Scope Operations Pty Ltd, including Hobart Private Hospital and Melbourne-based facilities.

We will also continue to use some of this funding in the public system. It is expected that the tranche of surgeries announced today will be completed by the end of this financial year, with all surgeries under this partnership to be completed by May 2017.

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