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TAS inquiry critical of funding cuts

Health budget cuts in Tasmania have adversely affected patient outcomes and contributed to significant workforce retention and morale issues, a damning parliamentary committee report has found.

The inquiry’s interim findings released on August 31 said the state’s ability to attract and retain a quality health workforce was at risk in both the public and private health systems.

Elective surgery volumes have dramatically decreased and ward closures have increased the incidence of bed blockages within the major hospitals.

The Legislative Council sub-committee report said the government’s budget cuts were not sustainable and there was an alarming lack of documentation and strategic direction from the government.

“The government does not currently have a sustainable funding model in place for the provision of public health services in Tasmania,” the report said.

Sub-committee chairperson Ruth Forrest said that while the cost savings strategy may have delivered some short-term savings, the long-term costs were likely to be much higher.

Forrest said the work of the sub-committee had also been hindered by the Minister for Health, Michelle O’Byrne, who has refused to participate in the inquiry process.

“The Sub-Committee has found the Minister is either unwilling or unable to account for her actions as the responsible Minister,” said Forrest.

The committee said the minister’s lack of cooperation with the parliamentary inquiry demonstrated a “failure of responsible government.”

The inquiry has called for an urgent independent assessment of the health department’s cost saving strategies. The inquiry will conclude its investigations by the end of the year.

The interim report can be read in full here: http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/ctee/Council/GovAdminA_Health.htm

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