Health

Health is Labor’s number one priority.

It should be the core business of any government to deliver hospital services that are accessible, high quality, safe and sustainable.

The Labor Party recognises we need a far greater focus on prevention and wellbeing. Keeping people well and out of hospital will not only deliver benefits to individuals but the entire health system.

What’s the issue?

Health remains Labor’s number one priority because it is the number one priority for all Tasmanians. Tasmanian hospitals have been in crisis for the entire term of the Liberal Government.

Who’s Labor talking to?

Labor will continue to work with a wide range of stakeholders to develop its policies, including clinicians, health unions, UTAS, peak bodies and the general public.

What will Labor do?

Tasmanian’s future depends on our ability to tackle long-term health challenges and this will require extensive changes to meet demands of increased rates of chronic disease and an ageing population. The Labor Party is committed to this challenge. Labor understands health affects everything we do – how we work, the time spent with our family and loved ones and what we do in our spare time. Good health boosts productivity and improves workplace participation. A healthy state will deliver a stronger economy.

Key policy elements:

  • Labor will reduce the hidden waiting list by providing more funding for outpatient appointments, which will result in more timely access to elective surgery.
  • Employing more nurses to work in the community to provide health care where people live and increase community transport services.
  • Working closely with clinicians, unions and peak bodies to ensure that we plan for future growth and peaks in demand, ensuring there are enough acute and sub-acute beds for the needs of Tasmanians.
  • Conducting a two year trial of a fixed transport service, operating seven days a week, between the West Coast and Burnie, Devonport and Launceston for patients who are fit for independent travel.
  • Public Mother and Baby Unit Beds Statewide.
  • Addressing bed block in the period before the new Royal Hobart Hospital comes online by utilising hotel rooms supervised by medical staff to accommodate patients who no longer require hospitalisation.
  • Enhancing primary care, allied health and outpatient services on the North West with the construction of an Integrated Care Centre.
  • Funding Oral Health Services Tasmania to work in partnership with the Royal Flying Doctors Service to reach people, especially children, who are currently not accessing dental services.
  • Funding for community nursing services to assist families caring for their loved ones in palliative care. High quality palliative care services in the community allow for people to die in comfort in their home surrounded by family and loved ones, while also relieving pressure on the hospital system.
  • Funding a liaison officer to assist families dealing with the Guardianship and Administration Board when they are grieving.

Mental Health

The Tasmanian Labor Party believes early intervention and prevention health practices, primary health, community health, education and community awareness are essential in guiding our Mental Health Services in the future.

Key policy elements:

  • Working with clinicians to find a suitable location for up to 10 additional mental health beds to provide a total of 42 acute mental health beds close to the RHH.
  • Building individual homes statewide to assist Tasmanians with mental ill health into recovery.
  • Fund an investigation into planning for the development of a new residential Mental Health Prevention and Care Facility and the development of an Adolescent and Youth Residential Mental Health Treatment facility.
  • Introduce Child and Adolescent outreach mental health teams in the South, North and North West to support the increase in hospital emergency room presentations.
  • Work with Mental Health Carers Tasmania to deliver new projects in Tasmania.
  • Provide additional funding to RAW to ensure it can continue to do important work across regional and rural Tasmania.
  • Develop a user-friendly, mobile accessible service directory, enabling members of the community to easily and accurately find the right service for their needs at the time they need it.
  • Labor will recruit mental health workers to all 202 Tasmanian state primary and high schools.

Future Hospitals Projects

Too many Tasmanians can’t access the health care they need when they need it because there aren’t enough beds in our health system. Labor recognises this is a problem right across the state which is leading to adverse outcomes for patients and, in some tragic cases, avoidable deaths.

Labor will work with the health workforce, clinicians, unions, University of Tasmania, patients and the community to increase the capacity of our hospitals to meet current and future demand.

We will update the masterplan for each of the state’s four major hospitals to plan for capital improvements on each site as well as develop comprehensive health precinct plans for Launceston, Hobart and Burnie. This work will identify where more services can be located to meet community needs, including more inpatient beds.

We will also make sure that our regional hospitals and health centres are supported to work better with the four major hospitals.

Working Smarter

Labor recognises that the health workforce has the ideas and drive needed to fix the health system.

We are not proposing another series of extensive consultations, we have heard what has been suggested and now is the time to work collaboratively to see it achieved.

Good governance and leadership of the health system is essential to drive a healthy culture that empowers the workforce, provides a safe work environment and delivers health services that are both of a high quality and sustainable.

To truly make the patient the centre of the health system, we need to make sure that their voice is elevated.

This can be achieved through existing peak bodies having a greater say, re-invigorating Consumer Committees for each region and by listening to individuals and their experiences in the health system.

The ability to deliver good health care depends upon having a skilled workforce that is empowered to work to their full scope, utilise their expertise and is provided with the right equipment to do the job.

Improving the workplace culture will foster a work environment that helps Tasmania recruit and retain staff, maintain accreditation and provide a safe and productive place of work.

The growing pressure on Tasmania’s health system requires Government to work smarter to meet demand.

Community Health

Tasmania’s health system continues to experience increased demand for services. This increase is in line with a number of key factors including the increased incidence of chronic and complex conditions, primarily due to Tasmania’s ageing population. Improving access to the existing network of Community Health Services (CHSs) throughout the State is an important aspect of providing the best possible care for Tasmanians within their community.

Key policy elements:

  • Establishing the Healthy Communities Commission. The Commission’s sole focus will be to provide policy advice, research and programs that result in better health outcomes for all Tasmanians.
  • Direct the Department of Premier and Cabinet to act as the lead agency to adopt a Health in All Policies approach to improve the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians.
  • Ensuring that all current CHaPS nurses positions are filled to ensure an ongoing service is available for children and families in their communities, and critical early checks can be performed for all children.
  • Make it easier for parents to keep track of their child’s health progress by rolling out a Child Health and Parenting Service app (blue book).
  • Labor believes that we should support people to make healthy choices and that is why we will trial the introduction of a subsidy for Tasmanians with a Health Care Card to access nicotine replacement treatment.
  • Boost anti-tobacco marketing to ensure it is high visibility and high impact. Undertake a regular Tasmanian Smoking and Health Survey to monitor smoking rates and assess the effectiveness of campaigns.
  • Conduct a one year trial of free influenza vaccinations for all children and adults who are not eligible under the Federal Government scheme.

Gaming

Labor took a policy to the 2018 election to phase out poker machines from pubs and clubs.

The opportunity to do something about poker machines arose because the monopoly agreement that allows pokies in pubs and clubs expired on June 30, 2018.

Labor approached this challenging policy debate with two objectives: supporting vulnerable Tasmanians and looking after working people.

Labor’s election policy was based on evidence and extensive consultation – including meeting with the owners and representatives of over 70 gaming venues across Tasmania.

We also spoke to community leaders, charities, local government representatives, social workers, support services, small business operators and health professionals.

The Liberal Government is currently renegotiating the agreement, which will see the rights to operate poker machines handed to individual pubs and clubs until at least 2043.

Labor is awaiting the details of the Liberal Government’s policy and remains committed to reducing the harm caused by poker machines.

Mental Health Workers for Tasmanian Schools

Labor will recruit mental health workers to all 202 Tasmanian state primary and high schools.

The statistics around mental health issues for Australian young people
are startling:

    • Half of all lifelong mental health problems begin before the age of 14.
    • One in seven young people aged 4 to 17 years experience a mental health condition in any given year.
    • One in ten young people aged 12-17 years old will self-harm, one in 13 will seriously consider a suicide attempt, and one in 40 will attempt suicide.
  • Suicide continues to be the biggest killer of young Australians.

WE MUST DO BETTER.

Labor has consulted widely and the feedback is clear – prevention and early intervention is vital in protecting a young person’s mental health.

Labor’s $40 million Mental Health Workers in Schools program will ensure Tasmanian students have access to specialist mental health support.

It will employ a range of mental health professionals such as social workers, youth workers or psychologists.

Mental health workers in schools will

  • help to destigmatise mental health
  • foster more supportive peer support networks
  • build skills among other school staff to manage student mental health.

They will provide direct counselling support and early intervention services, as well as coordinating appropriate support for students with more severe needs.

A key aim of the initiative will be to reduce Tasmania’s youth suicide rate, which is among the highest in the country.

By identifying and treating mental ill health in children we can reduce the number of acute mental health issues presenting at our hospitals.

Mental health and wellbeing is vital for learning and life. Children who are mentally healthy learn better, benefit from life experiences and have stronger relationships with family members, school staff and peers.

Good mental health in childhood also provides a solid foundation for managing the transition to adolescence and adulthood, engaging successfully in education and having a happier life.

Only Labor has a plan to put mental health workers in every Tasmanian Government School.

Find out more about Labor’s Plans to Put People First.