Health

Health is one of Labor’s top priorities.

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 is one of Labor’s top priorities because having good health care essential 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.

Labor’s Hospital Outpatient & Surgery Plan

A Labor Government will ensure Tasmania has more doctors, more appointments, so you spend less time waiting.

Under the Liberal Government, elective surgery wait list has increased 71% and outpatient wait list by 76% since the 2018 election.

Today, if you’re a referred patient with suspected bowel cancer in Tasmania, you are likely to be in the >80% of patients who are not being seen on time.

This is simply unacceptable because we know that these statistics are real experiences of Tasmanians.

That’s why we are committing 215 new jobs in Tasmania to bust the elective surgery and outpatient waits lists that have ballooned under the Liberal Government.

If elected, a Labor Government will create new jobs:

  • 65 additional permanent doctors (35 medical specialists and 30 surgical specialists) across the state to clear the elective surgery and outpatient waitlist.
  • 150 additional nurses and midwives across the state to improve standard of patient care.

We will also roll out a contemporary support system that will ensure you get an appointment with the right health professional at the right time for you. This includes:

  • An online system for booking appointments so you spend less time in waiting rooms or on the phone and more time in front of a specialist.
  • Two-week referral for suspected cancer patients as part of our rapid access commitment.
  • Increased access to community outpatient clinics and enhanced telehealth services allowing rural patients to access specialist care closer to home.
  • Investment in additional elective surgery and endoscopies to accommodate increased patient flow.

We will secure these new jobs and enhanced services and IT systems through an investment of $137 million.

We know that there’s nothing more important than your health and the health of your loved ones. That’s why we are bringing an expert designed, contemporary solution to the table to make these services more accessible to you, wherever you live across Tasmania.

Labor’s Rural Practitioners & Hospitals Package

A Majority Labor Government will invest a further $113 million to support Tasmania’s rural doctors & upgrade rural community hospitals and continue to grow jobs with the addition of 85 new nurse practitioners and remote area nurses.

Tasmania’s 17 small rural hospitals across the State are integral to the identity of our rural communities.

But under the Liberal’s, they are underutilised regarding after hours emergency care and as an inpatient facility for early discharge of patients from our larger hospitals.

That’s why we will upgrade 17 rural hospitals and similar facilities (e.g. Multipurpose Centres) to deliver 24/7 emergency care.

We will bring onboard 85 new nurse practitioners and remote area nurses.

We will roll out job generating capital upgrades through a rural hospital improvement package totalling $59.5 million.

We will also deliver a training package for 50 rural generalists to and are committed to re-write the Rural Medical Practitioners agreement.

Together, these actions will build up essential services in rural Tasmania, while supporting local jobs and rural community resilience.

Labor’s Community First - Integrated Community Health Care Strategy

A Majority Labor Government will upgrade 30 Community Health Centres across Tasmania, providing 24/7 nursing in communities and securing 180 new jobs.

We know that community nursing and allied health services are essential to keep people well in the community.

That’s why a Majority Labor Government will invest $99 million to enhance the delivery of Tasmania’s community care services by embedding a multidisciplinary team in each of the 30 Community Health Centres.

This includes rolling out 180 new jobs, including:

  • 90 community nurses
  • 60 allied health practitioners (including, Dieticians, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapists, Exercise Physiologists)
  • 30 mental health social workers

Under a Majority Labor Government, each Community Health Centre will include 24/7 nursing, access to allied health, a mental health social worker and a vehicle for patient transport.

Community Health Centres will also be staffed by an allied health team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians and exercise physiologists.

We know that 24/7 availability of community nurses will result in offering home visits and improved palliative care support.

By introducing a comprehensive nursing and allied health service in the community, we will also facilitate earlier hospital discharge back into the community – optimizing patient flow – and getting people home safely.

This strategy will also importantly reduce emergency department presentations, ambulance call-outs and hospital admissions.

We will ensure Tasmanians can seek treatment and advice closer to home.

Ending the Liberal Ambulance Crisis - Labor’s ambulance strategy

Tasmanians deserve 24/7 ambulance care where they live & when they need it.

That’s why a Majority Labor Government will employ an additional 144 full-time paramedics to ensure all 54 stations across Tasmania have 24/7 coverage.

Two new stations will also be developed in the growing areas of the Channel and Oakdowns, increasing geographical coverage and helping more Tasmanians.

Under the Gutwein Government, ambulance waiting times are the worst in the country, and have increased over 30% since the Liberals were elected.

Wait times in regional areas are particularly appalling. Ambulances are being diverted, leaving vulnerable patients untreated for hours. The consequences are fatal.

If you can’t rely on an ambulance arriving in an emergency, it’s time to change the Government.

No more ramping - Labor’s enhanced emergency care strategy

A Majority Labor Government will put a stop to the Liberal’s disastrous record of ambulance ramping by establishing an Emergency Tasmania Digital Health Hub and rolling out of GP Extended Care Centres while continuing to grow jobs.

If elected, Labor will establish an ‘Emergency Tasmania Digital Health Hub’ to provide 24/7 advice to Tasmanians.

This will see doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, paramedics provide advice, write prescriptions, initiate pathology or radiology, and directly refer patients to A&Es, community nurses, community GPs in real time.

We will establish 10 ‘GP Extended Care Centres’ through existing GP practices in the community that will:

  • Provide extended hours financial support package so opening hours will be 8 am – 8 pm
  • Provide a ‘Medicare Match’ contribution to ensure bulk-billing of patients who have been referred by the Emergency Tasmania Digital Health Hub
  • Provide a workforce package that will see a secondment of a paramedic at each location.

A Majority Labor Government will also establish Mobile Emergency Doctors that will be co-located at Emergency Departments in Hobart, Burnie and Launceston.

Labor will end the crisis and improve the health of Tasmanians across the state.

Investing in Health Infrastructure

Labor has made major commitments to cut waiting lists, fix the ambulance crisis and improve community healthcare from day one.

We understand doctors, nurses and paramedics are the most important part of our health system. Unlike the Liberals, our priority will always be investing in people.

But we also know our hospitals will need significant upgrades if we are to maintain improvements over coming years.

Labor will invest:
  • $390 million in Hobart to redevelop the Repatriation Hospital site to allow for a state of the art mental health facility, day surgery beds and rehabilitation and palliative care.
  • $67.5 million at the North West Regional Hospital for a new mental health facility, more beds, and the upgrades required to bring back maternity services.
  • $30 million at the Mersey to bring back maternity services, make the Mersey the National Centre for Rural Health, and open more beds.
  • $110 million for Stage 2 of the Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment
  • $580 million over 10 years for the Launceston General Hospital in partnership with the Federal Government
  • $59.5 million across Tasmania to upgrade 17 districts hospitals and community health facilities.
  • $38 million to upgrade ambulance stations so every community has 24/7 paramedic coverage.

Mental Health Workers for Tasmanian Schools

Labor will recruit mental health workers to all 195 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.

Working for Tasmanians to Improve the Mental Health of Our Young People

Mental health is a serious issue

The facts around mental health issues for young Australians are startling and sad.

The fact is one in 10 young people aged 12 to 17 will self-harm, one in 13 will seriously consider a suicide attempt and one in 40 will attempt suicide.

Half of all life-long mental health issues begin before the age of 14.

We must do more to support our young people.

Labor will support Speak UP! Stay ChatTY

Labor will commit $250,000 each year for three years to Speak UP! Stay ChatTY’s Schools Program and an additional $200,000 each year for three years for the Sports Program.

Stay ChatTY and its founder Mitch McPherson do a phenomenal job providing support to young Tasmanians. With guaranteed funding, Mitch and his team will continue to do amazing work in promoting positive mental health and preventing suicide by reducing stigma and encouraging people to seek help.

Support for the Speak UP! Stay ChatTY is in addition to Labor’s $40 million commitment to recruit mental health workers to all 195 Tasmanian state primary and high schools.

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

Creating Good Jobs, Delivering Better Health

Labor’s number one priority is creating jobs, but it’s important that we create good jobs. This means creating secure, full-time employment that gives Tasmanians access to sick leave, annual leave, and provides the security needed to make major life decisions like buying a home. 

We will lead by example, by identifying opportunities to convert long-term contract positions in the public service to permanent jobs, including full-time positions where appropriate.

This will reduce reliance on overtime and lead to better service delivery for the community.

Permanent jobs in our health sector result in genuine continuity of care, and that leads to better health outcomes for Tasmanians. Labor will reduce reliance on locums and agency nurses in Tasmania’s health and hospital system.

Creating Good Jobs, Delivering Better Health is part of Labor’s Plan for Jobs our fully costed plan that will deliver jobs for 35,000 Tasmanians.

Find out how Rebecca White & the Labor Team are Working for Tasmanians.