Thousands of Tasmanians are enduring a long and painful wait for diagnosis and treatment for inflammatory bowel disease.
Shadow Health Minister Sarah Lovell said Will Hodgman’s Government has failed to invest in the Royal Hobart Hospital’s Gastroenterology and Liver Department, resulting in pain and distress for patients and stress for health workers in the Department.
“These diseases can cause severe and distressing symptoms and – if untreated – can involve life-threatening complications.
“People considered to have conditions requiring urgent treatment are waiting more than a year for an appointment with the Department. If your condition is deemed ‘semi-urgent’, the wait time blows out to two years and longer.
“GPs are instead referring their patients to emergency departments, and patients who experience ‘flare ups’ are taking themselves there too. Failing to properly resource the Department is increasing the already enormous pressure on our emergency departments.”
Ms Lovell said key staff have recently resigned from the Department in protest at resourcing levels, putting at risk the Department’s ongoing training accreditation and jeopardising its capacity to deliver these important services to Tasmanians in need.
“The IBD National Action Plan lists as its first priority action increasing access to specialist IBD nurses. The Department at the Royal Hobart Hospital is the only capital city without one.
“Inflammatory bowel diseases are complex conditions that require long term management. The role of a specialist nurse is vital in increasing patients’ knowledge of how to best manage their disease.
“Staff have put forward a business case several times over five years for appointment of an IBD nurse and been knocked back each time. The Liberals’ policy of vacancy control means funding has not been approved.
“That position puts at risk the Department’s training accreditation. The Royal Australian College of Physicians has changed its accreditation requirements to be in line with the National Action Plan and without the right staffing levels, the Department can’t meet those requirements. More importantly, it leaves Tasmanians with Inflammatory Bowel Disease waiting in pain for appropriate treatment and management of their disease.”
Shadow Health Minister