Better access to medical services, more paramedics and boosting oral health services

Sarah Courtney,Minister for Health

We’re investing more into the essential services Tasmanians need, including our health system, by relieving pressure on our Emergency Departments so those most at risk can get the care they need when they need it.

Tasmanians told PESRAC that health is a priority and we believe Tasmanians deserve a health system they can be proud of.

Since coming to Government we have grown our health budget to $9.8 billion – a 70 per cent increase since the last Labor-Green budget, with 1500 additional FTE staff. In fact, Tasmania now has the second highest rate of public hospital staff in Australia, but there is still more to be done.

To help make it even easier for Tasmanians to access medical care close to home, we will work with the primary health sector with $3 million in additional support and incentives for primary care services, including GPs, to provide after-hours services for their local communities.

Greater after hours primary care support will complement other state Government initiatives including Community Rapid Response and Secondary Triage.

Subject to consultation with the primary care sector, we intend to have these incentives in place by the end of June 2021. The aim of this incentive program is to take pressure off Tasmanian Emergency Departments, and maximise opportunities for lower level care to be provided outside of hospitals, providing a better patient experience and freeing up hospital resources for more urgent patients.

Together with other initiatives being undertaken by this Government, this model will help drive down waiting times, reduce Ambulance ramping and ensure more Tasmanians are receiving the right care in the right place at the right time.

While this Government has delivered significant increases in Ambulance Tasmania staffing since 2014, with more than 170 additional FTEs recruited, a 50 per cent increase since the previous Government, today we are providing additional support.

We will recruit two new paramedic crews, and new vehicles, with 12 FTEs each to increase access to ambulance services in the greater Hobart and greater Launceston areas.

I am also committed to ensuring greater access to our high quality palliative care services for more Tasmanians. Our funding for palliative care has consistently increased since we came to Government, and we are also refurbishing and delivering new palliative care spaces in our hospitals to ensure the comfort of patients and their families.

We will continue and boost this investment, and in the lead up to August Budget we will work with peak palliative care and health bodies, and the community sector on the best approach for additional and expanded hospice at home services, and expansion of state-wide after hours palliative care support. This will be a substantial investment to ensure Tasmanians continue to have improved levels of care.

Finally, we are also providing a huge boost for oral health services, which we know have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government will be investing $5 million to provide around 20,000 appointments for public patients across emergency, general care and denture clinics so that more Tasmanians can get the dental care they need.

When we came to Government we inherited significant legacy issues from underspend and under-investment, but brick by brick and service by service, we are building a better health system.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.