Jeremy Rockliff,Minister for Health
The Health Dashboard update, released today, shows despite delivering more funding, more staffing and more health services than any previous Government, demand is continuing to increase.
The latest data for June shows some encouraging improvements to the elective surgery waitlist, reducing from 12,271 in January, to 11,284 – a decrease of nearly 1000 people.
There is however still a long way to go, and we must always strive to do better because behind every number is a person requiring care.
Our record elective surgery blitz will ensure even more patients can get the surgery they need within the clinically recommended time. Importantly, the additional $120 million commitment made during the state election is over the term of Government, enabling longer-term planning and certainty.
A four-year elective surgery plan is currently under development, in line with our plan for our first 100 days, which will enable us to deliver an additional 22,300 elective surgeries and endoscopies.
There are now 55,085 people waiting for an outpatient appointment, which is down from 55,229 in April 2021. While COVID restrictions have had an impact, I acknowledge this is still too many.
There are more than 40,000 occasions each year where a patient is recorded as not attending a scheduled outpatient appointment, leading to underutilised capacity within the service.
While it is completely understandable that people might not always be able to attend an appointment, I’d ask anyone who is unable to make a scheduled appointment to let the service know in advance where possible so that time can be used to care for another person.
We are doing our best to try and improve the management of outpatient waiting lists and access to outpatient clinics, including:
- Using telehealth for outpatient appointments for some specialities, improving access to services and reducing the need for patients to travel, particularly from rural and remote areas;
- A more patient friendly booking system including SMS reminders and confirmation of appointments – making it easier for patients to cancel and rebook appointments and helping to reduce the number of patients who don’t attend appointments; and
- Strengthening referral processes, so outpatient clinics get the information they need, GPs are clear about the information they need to provide and most importantly the patient’s appointment isn’t delayed.
It is pleasing to see median ambulance response times have improved from a high of 15 minutes in March 2021 to 13.7 minutes in June. We are continuing to roll out secondary triage, which sees trained paramedics and nurses provide clinical advice to Triple Zero callers, including connecting them to other health services where appropriate, reserving our ambulances and paramedics for emergency situations.
The June dashboard data reflects the heavy impact COVID-19 has had on oral health services last year when there was a period of emergency only services. This has resulted in a backlog; however, I am hopeful a one-off $5 million commitment to provide an additional 20,000 dental appointment will go a long way towards addressing this.
The Tasmanian Liberal Government is committed to providing Tasmanians with the right care, in the right place, at the right time, which is why we are recruiting an additional 280 full-time equivalent staff across our health system, increasing services, and providing care in the community where appropriate.