The Hodgman Liberal Government’s One Health System reforms recognise that locum usage is too high and we are working hard to address the issue by employing more permanent medical specialists. As we know, this has been a longstanding issue – including under the Labor-Green Government.

That is why we are building safe and sustainable clinical services to help attract and retain permanent doctors.

While that is happening, the THS is appropriately ensuring that necessary medical staff continue to provide services to the community.

The former Government did nothing to address this problem, so it makes you wonder if they have an issue with the private sector and Tasmanians receiving the care they need in a timely manner.

Figures released under RTI – and publicly available on the DHHS website – show locum usage remains high, particularly on the North West Coast of Tasmania.

We are not hiding this issue. We are taking action.

We have increased the number of permanent medical specialists and in April 2016, Dr Robert Pegram started as the first permanent Director of Medical Services that the NWRH has had in more than three years.

THS has also recently recruited a new permanent respiratory physician, a general physician and an obstetrician in the North West.

Dr Pegram’s permanent recruitment is providing the leadership and direction to drive down locum usage, and we are committed to working with the Burnie City Council to attract and retain permanent medical staff on the North West Coast.

We have increased the number of permanent medical specialists by more than 30 FTE over the course of 2015-16.

Numbers were stable across 2014-15* – The decline shown in the RTI was primarily an accounting issue, due to taking locums off the payroll at THO-NW and short-term differences due to recruiting cycles.

The Mersey is now Tasmania’s Dedicated Elective Surgery Centre, providing elective surgery or procedures for more than 220 Tasmanians in the last fornight.

This means more efficient use of our hospitals and the availability of beds at our other hospitals for emergency patients.

The new Elective Surgery Centre will be backed with new services of rehabilitation, geriatrics, pain management and alcohol and drug services, with the retention of a 24/7 emergency department.

These services will provide opporunities to recruit new, permanent, medical specialists and will provide Mersey Community Hospital a stronger, more secure role as an acute hospital with a broader range of better and safer services.

These reforms build on the achievements of the last 12 months, where provided more than 19,000 elective surgeries to Tasmanians – an all-time record – of which fewer than 500 were performed interstate.

With the Budget back on track we can invest more in our health system, including new services and staffing, with an additional $51 million in frontline health services this year, along with a record $6.4 billion investment over the next four years.

* ref: p10

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