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Tas boosted by funding of a number of new health initiatives

23 October, 2007

"I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government will fund a number of measures to improve key elements of Tasmania's health services infrastructure, totalling $35 million over four years." Source: John Howard.

"Funding of $8 million will be provided over three years for the construction of new purpose-built rehabilitation and transitional care facilities and a new psychiatric unit, at the Burnie Hospital.

"At Launceston General Hospital, $16 million will be provided over three years for the upgrading of oncology, radiotherapy and transitional care facilities and the establishment of new cardiac care facilities.

"A further $8.5 million will be provided over four years for specific patient transport measures. This recognises the difficulty for Tasmanians in dispersed communities with long travelling times in accessing larger hospital and specialist medical services.

"This will include support for a pick-up and drop-off shuttle service between the Burnie, Devonport and Launceston General Hospitals and catchment communities along the Bass Highway, the Tamar Valley and the North East.

"It will also enable the purchase and ongoing operation of five medically-equipped patient transport vehicles to transport non-ambulatory patients to hospitals and other specialist medical services. These may be based at ambulance stations across the State and contracted to the private sector.

"I am also announcing that the Australian Government will provide up to $1 million in 2007-08 for each of Ouse and Rosebery Hospitals. This funding will be paid to the Central Highlands and West Coast Councils to be held in trust on behalf of the Ouse and Rosebery Communities respectively. This will allow these communities to ensure that these small local hospitals can continue to provide the range of services that were available before the Tasmanian Government announced its rationalisation plan in May. It will sustain them until the full effect of the Mersey funding windfall is available to the Tasmanian Government to meet its health service responsibilities for these communities.

"The decision to re-establish the Mersey Community Hospital as a community-operated and Commonwealth-funded public hospital provides an extra $45 million per year from next year for the Tasmanian Government to spend on meeting its health care responsibilities in Ouse, Rosebery and elsewhere.

"I had a very constructive meeting with the staff and board members of the Mersey Hospital's Community Consultative Committee.

"The announcement recognises that the revitalised Mersey Community Hospital needs to remain integrated with services provided at the other major public hospitals in the region, Launceston General Hospital and Burnie Hospital. It is a public hospital, just like its companion hospitals, and with them provides services across the north, north-west and western regions of Tasmania.

"These measures for Burnie and Launceston General Hospitals have been identified as priorities by clinicians and locals governments. They will help each hospital improve their own infrastructure as well as complement the Mersey. They add to recent Australian Government announcements of Medicare access for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines at the Launceston General Hospital and in the north-west and west of Tasmania.

"The patient transport measures not only enhance the networking of the three northern hospitals, but will also benefit patients across the whole State.

"Added to the $45 million per year in additional health funding available to the Tasmanian Government through the Mersey Hospital transfer to the Commonwealth, these measures demonstrate that the Australian Government is committed to the long term strategic development of Tasmania's healthy infrastructure.

"These announcements also owe much to the persistence of the Member for Bass Michael Ferguson MP, the Member for Braddon, Mark Baker MP and Senator Guy Barnett on behalf of the Ouse and Rosebery communities. I commend them for their efforts."

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