News, media releases

Dire figures show urgency of health crisis

  • Health dashboard shows surgery waiting lists blew out before COVID-19
  • Tasmania’s general surgery waiting list at record high since December
  • Liberals must deliver long-term plan beyond pandemic response

Tasmania’s latest elective surgery waiting lists confirm worsening surgical delays before COVID-19 and the urgent need for a long-term plan to fix the state’s ailing health system.

Shadow Health Minister Sarah Lovell said surgery waiting lists hit another record high in the three months to the end of March – before the impact of COVID-19 had been felt.

“Tasmania’s elective surgery waiting lists were already at record high numbers at the end of 2019, with more than 11,100 people waiting for surgery,” Ms Lovell said.

“Now, the latest Tasmanian Health Dashboard shows that trend worsened in the three months to the end of March, with the waiting list rising by 201 to 11,307 – another record.

“For urgent Category 1 surgeries, the waiting list rose by 98 to 849, and average overdue waiting times were up across all categories. Outpatient waiting lists were also up – by 2,501 – to another record 40,023.  And, oral health waiting lists rose by almost 1,000 to 14,855.

“Worst of all, all but five days of this data pre-dates the cancellation of Categories 2 and 3 surgery on 26 March. For the Health Minister to say this latest dashboard shows the anticipated impact of COVID-19 is disingenuous at best.

“Even though some surgeries have resumed, these figures mean we can expect much worse figures to come, putting enormous pressure on the state’s already stretched health system.

“While the government needs to prioritise the response to the impact of COVID-19, these figures clearly demonstrate the need for an overarching plan to catch up on the state’s backlog of surgeries and improve the health system generally.

“Tasmanians have been waiting too long for surgery and they deserve a comprehensive plan to get them off the waiting lists and into hospital beds.

“The pandemic demonstrated the catastrophic consequences of underinvestment in the health system and the need to upgrade health facilities across the state.

“As a starting point, I urge the government to consider some of the many ideas contained in Labor’s COVID-19 Recovery Package, which is designed to get Tasmanians back into jobs and create a better and fairer Tasmania.

“We have learnt many lessons from COVID-19 – one of the most important is that Tasmanians deserve a properly resourced health system. We need a vision and a plan that delivers for all Tasmanians in both the short and long term.”

Sarah Lovell MLC
Shadow Health Minister