MEDIA RELEASE 6 June 2008
AUTHORITY SUPPORTS STATE-RUN MERSEY The Cradle Coast Authority supports the State’s new model for northwest hospital services and believes the Federal Government should help fast-track improvements to the region’s hospital system instead of paying for a new operator to run the Mersey for the next three years. The State’s revised plan, released a fortnight ago, shows the Mersey providing improved high dependency and inpatient care, in addition to the new specialist services proposed in its 2007 plan. Most importantly, it shows the Mersey working as part of an integrated hospital system, delivering a broader range of better services for the region than two stand-alone hospitals could offer locally. This is what the State has recommended to the Federal Government as the best option for the Mersey, and what it would do if it was once again responsible for all hospitals in the region. If the Federal Government chooses a different role for the Mersey, it may jeopardise the regional approach. If it adopts the State’s preferred option, it will only be doing what the State would do anyway, with the added complication of integrating services across different hospital operators. Neither of these options will necessarily provide better hospital services, or the best use of federal funding allocations, for the Cradle Coast region. The biggest problem with the State’s original plan was that it did not quickly demonstrate the onground improvements it promised for the Mersey or the region. Even if the Federal Government adopted the State’s preferred model in full, with a new Mersey operator, this could happen again. On this basis, the region would be better off if the State resumed operation of the Mersey and federal funds were redirected to help deliver the transport, accommodation, capital and equipment upgrades needed to make the new model work and deliver real, on-ground benefits for the region. To ensure that all parties meet their commitments, and to keep the region’s community informed, a Regional Health Advisory Board should be established with representatives of the Federal and State Ministers, Local Government in the region, general practitioners and the Rural Clinical School. The Federal Government can uphold its promise to own the Mersey and ensure safe, sustainable hospital services for the people of northwest Tasmania, but should do so as a shareholder and investor in the regional health system on which these services depend, not as a hospital operator.
Roger Jaensch, Cradle Coast Authority
6431 6285, 0438 316 285