Each week new horror stories emerge from our health system

Gone are the halcyon days when my grandmother would pick the best flowers from her garden and march them into the doctor’s office. “These are for you, to say thank you for taking care of my family,” she would say.

How times have changed. Stories like this which reflect the close relationship between families and the medical fraternity who care for us have been moved to the archives. This is sad because our community does have extremely passionate people working in healthcare who are doing their absolute best during unprecedented times. 

Tasmania has the oldest population and the highest rate of chronic illnesses in the country. Add our escalating hospital crisis and the specialist/general practitioner shortage to the mix, a Government sleeping at the wheel and there can be no doubt the system is at breaking point.

Under the Tasmanian Hodgman Liberal Government our health system has spiralled downwards. Their record of inaction, withholding information, funding cuts and severely underfunding the health and hospital system is only adding fuel to the fire.

More than three damning reports highlighting the catastrophic state of our health system have now landed with a deafening thud on Minister Ferguson’s desk. But in true Liberal-style, Minister Ferguson is more determined than ever to point the finger and look the other way.

Our nurses, doctors and health professionals are at breaking point. They didn’t sign up for this. They tell me they desperately want to provide the high quality of care that patients expect and deserve but they can’t because the system is broken and the Minister isn't listening.

“One shift I worked we discharged 20 patients and accepted another 20 new ones from the Emergency Department within the space of 8 hours. There was no patient centred care for those patients on that shift, they just become names on a page because that’s all you have time for. We do the best that we can for every patient, but on those days, which are so common now, we know that patients aren’t getting the care that they deserve, because there are just not enough of us or hours in the day” - RHH Registered Nurse

Every week new horror stories are emerging. We have paramedics trying to treat sick people in corridors and nurses performing invasive procedures on patients who are sitting shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers in the emergency department. Tasmanians drive past our hospitals every day and see ambulances queued on the hospital ramp and out onto the street. Our bed block is so bad that more than 80 Tasmanians have lost their lives because they can’t get the care they need.
 
Every single Tasmanian has a right to access quality healthcare when they need it most. But this Government is ignoring their cries for help. The Government is now in its fifth year in office and no excuse is acceptable anymore.
 
The campaign by the ANMF Tas branch has been a tireless effort to bring a human face to this crisis and their slogan “bring your own bed” is no laughing matter. We are at a point now whereby there is no confidence in the health system and people are having to consider leaving the state so they can access medical care in their senior years. 
 
This is utterly unacceptable. The community is banging on the Health Minister’s door in a desperate attempt to wake him up to the fact that families can’t access treatment for their sick children, older Tasmanians cannot get a hip replacement for years and people are living with chronic pain on a daily basis. The Government's response to “trust us” is frankly beyond believable.
In an extraordinary admission of failure, earlier this month we saw Premier Hodgman tell his colleagues at the Liberal State Council that our health system is failing Tasmanians. Unfortunately, this extraordinary admission of failure was not accompanied by a solution or reprimand for his incompetent Health Minister.
 
The Morrison Government isn’t immune from criticism either - let’s not forget that as Treasurer Scott Morrison cut $715 million out of Australia’s public hospitals.
I will not accept this deplorable level of treatment and care becoming the norm in the state that I love and neither should the Liberal Hodgman Government as every Tasmanian is forced to endure this very difficult period in our states hospital system.
 
This article was originally published in The Mercury on Friday 26 October 2018.