Over my five years as Health Minister for Tasmania, I worked extremely hard to improve and expand health services and facilities across the State. My top three achievements are:
- Creating the Tasmanian Health Service with a comprehensive plan for safe services in all hospitals supported by all clinical groups;
- Getting the surgery waiting list and wait times down to the lowest levels on record through funding and driving change; and
- Rescuing and then delivering the long-awaited, new Royal Hobart Hospital project, with helipads at each hospital linking up every region to our highest level of emergency and trauma care.
These three initiative alone have saved and improved countless lives.
Some of the many other achievements include:
- Opening over 130 new beds – many of them previously closed by Labor and the Greens
- Employed record health staff – over 1000 new frontline workers
- Increasing health funding by nearly $2.3 billion
- Investing $100 million more into elective surgery, delivering an extra 2000 extra surgeries a year, including the $7.2 million women’s health package and turning around the 10-year long waits under Labor
- Getting the stalled RHH redevelopment back on track, and including a helipad and new hyperbaric chamber in the design, which were dropped by Labor
- Investing $10 million a year to fund the state’s first ever dedicated aeromedical service, which rapidly deploys a ready-to-go specialist medical team to emergencies 24 hours a day.
- Doubling the state’s contracted search and rescue helicopter capacity on standby, from one to two.
- Providing $91 million for the next Stage of the RHH Master Plan.
- Reinstating the ‘Hospital in the Home’ service in Launceston, previously axed by the last Labor Health Minister – and extending this valuable service to the North-West and South
- Providing long-term permanent funding for the 20 beds at the John L. Grove Centre
- Striking a record-making $730 million deal with the Federal Government to give long-term certainty to the future of the Mersey Community Hospital
- Establishing a safe maternity service in the NW which was modelled on expert advice to improve safety for mothers and babies and has resulted in permanent staff and less reliance on locums
- Completing the North West Cancer Centre and funded its operation – this meant cancer treatment has been able to be delivered for first time at the North West Regional Hospital and has resulted in over 7000 fewer trips into Launceston each year for routine radiology treatment
- Increasing the number of graduate nurse placements by 76 per cent
- Filling long term specialist vacancies to service the North and North West – two full time endocrinologists at the LGH and full time neurologists at LGH
- Recruiting 12 new paramedics in the North West in 2016 and funding for a further 42 paramedics across regional Tasmania
- Delivering the first new Ambulance crews in years for Hobart and Launceston
Funding a $3 million upgrade to allied health facilities at the LGH – this was the first redevelopment of the clinics for more than 30 years and included a special care dental unit being established for the first time
- Funding 43 new drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation beds around the state to bring the total number available in Tasmania to more than 100
- Building the new $12.1 million St Helens Hospital
- Building the new $21 million Glenorchy Health Centre, which saw 21,000 appointments completed in its first six months, taking huge pressure off the Royal
- Finishing the $6.5 million Kingston Health Centre
- Providing $800,000 of additional funding each year for Child and Adolescent Mental elathHealth Services
- Investing $1.8 million for early intervention and referral services for suicide prevention;
- Ensuring the continuation of the Psychiatric Emergency Nurse (PEN) Service at the Royal Hobart Hospital in 2017 and commenced a trial of a PEN service at LGH
- Extending flu vaccines into community pharmacies for the first time and also funded Tasmania’s first ever state-funded childhood flu vaccination program for children aged six months to five years of age
- Delivering Tasmania’s Meningococcal vaccination program in response to an outbreak – 96,000 vaccines were distributed, which was Tasmania’s largest immunisation outbreak response
- Investing $1.2 million into an expanded BreastScreen Tasmania services, including building a second BreastScreen bus and refurbishing and upgraded the current bus
- Officially recognised Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in 2017, declared 15 October the dedicated day.
- Building the state-wide One Health System – removing bureaucratic duplication and finally bringing in the reform many said was too hard and couldn’t be done – and strengthened local hospital leadership
Securing the future of the State’s mental health facilities by purchasing them and funding six new community-based beds in Glenorchy