More questions raised at health forum

Following last night’s public health forum, Burnie City Council is concerned that there are still unanswered questions regarding the Government’s White Paper on health reform.

Burnie Mayor Anita Dow said, “We appreciate that the White Paper is still a work in progress, however, as a Council we believe there are still some issues that need some consideration.”

“Council continues to be concerned about the location of a consolidated maternity service for the North West. We welcome the Minister’s statement that his decision will not be politically based and we strongly support the Minister’s view that this decision must be evidence based and support the principles of safety, quality and accessibility which underpin the reforms. However a decision must be made as soon as possible.”

“Given the consolidation of services in some areas, we need to know if there is a likelihood of job losses, and if so, how these losses would be mitigated. Our health workers, and our community, need to be reassured that steps will be in place to ensure that there are minimal job losses as a result of the reform.”

“There is also the issue of bed numbers. There have been times where both the Mersey Community Hospital and North West Regional Hospital have been at capacity, so if services are consolidated, what strategies will be in place to ensure that both hospitals have enough beds to service demand. Adequate resourcing of hospitals, and health services in general, needs to be a priority.”

“The Minister has been open about the current difficulties in recruiting clinicians and physicians in our area. We know that as part of the health reform, physicians, specialists and clinicians will be required to service the Northern region, including the North West Coast. The Minister has advised us that specialists are willing to support this new model, but questions need to be asked about the long-term sustainability of this practice.”

“Much of the focus of the White Paper has been on the hospitals and what services they will deliver and where they will be delivered. However, consideration also needs to be given to strengthening community and primary care in the region. Health care isn’t just about treating people in hospital, it is also about keeping people out of hospital.”

“Council welcomes the Minister’s announcement of $14 million in funding over four years for patient transport and support, but more information is needed in relation to how that money is going to be spent. If patients, and their families, are travelling further for complex surgeries then they will need assistance with both transport and accommodation.”

“If the Minister wants to take the politics out of the region as he suggested last night, then there should have been a consistent approach to government representation at the forums. The Premier should have attended both forums, or none at all.”

“Council will be making a further submission to the White Paper as part of the consultation process, to highlight these issues."

For further information please contact

Janine Phillips
Communications Officer
Burnie City Council
03 6430 5716 or 0448 568 728