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Nurses welcome federal lifeline for TAS health

The ANF Tasmanian branch has applauded the federal government’s $325 million injection into the state’s ailing health system.

Australian Nursing Federation Tasmanian branch state secretary Neroli Ellis has welcomed the federal government’s $325 million rescue package and said lives would ultimately be saved.

Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek announced on Friday that the commonwealth was taking "urgent action" to head off a crisis caused by the island state's ageing population, higher rates of chronic disease and system constraints.

The funding, over four years, was decided after government consultations with Tasmanian Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Tasmanian Labor MPs.

The funding includes money for extra operations such as orthopedic and cataract surgery, the set up of walk-in clinics in Hobart and Launceston for minor injuries, better after hospital care, medical specialist training, mental health services and the roll out of personal electronic health record systems in local hospitals.

"These investments respond to the ideas that frontline clinicians have told me will be the best ways to tend to Tasmania's health system," Plibersek said.

Ellis said the establishment of walk-in clinics in Hobart and Launceston would enable nurses to utilise their full scope of practice and relieve the pressures on our emergency departments.

However the union said it would be seeking further clarification on further cuts outlined in the Forward Estimates of the State Health Budget. “In the event that the state budget stands, inclusive of the Forward Estimates, we still have concerns that the state government will continue to cut money from the health budget over the next three years,” said Ellis.

The minister said the Tasmanian government would have to comply with strict reporting and accountability programs, and maintain current funding levels before receiving any extra funding.

A Commission on Tasmanian Government Delivery of Health Services will be set up to ensure the state was delivering services as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Breakdown of the federal funding:
• $74.5 million for better patient care when they are discharged from hospital and better palliative care in the community
• $53.9 million to train more medical specialists in Tasmania and for more scholarships for nurses and allied health professionals
• $48.7 million to support better community care to prevent and manage chronic disease through Tasmanian Medicare Local
• $42 million to support innovation in clinical services to deliver care more effectively and efficiently
• $36.8 million to roll out personally controlled electronic health record in Tasmania's hospitals and allow health, pathology and diagnostic imaging services to connect to ehealth
• $31.2 million for an elective surgery blitz to provide around 2600 extra surgeries for overdue operations, such as orthopaedic and cataract surgery
• Around $22 million to create walk-in clinics in Hobart and Launceston for minor illnesses and injuries, for extended hours and at no charge to patients
• $15.4 million to address gaps in mental health services.

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