As we await the publication of the ‘white paper draft exposure’ on health reform we have been told by the Minister for Health, Michael Ferguson, that there will be news in the white paper that some people won’t like.
Change is difficult at the best of times but health reform in Tasmania is happening at the same time the Liberal Government is slashing $210 million from the health system, shutting beds and removing staff from key services.
One of my greatest concerns is the that regional communities will be asked to accept changes to services that don’t improve their access to health care and will lead to worse health outcomes. The Minister has told communities that no regional hospital will shut and this is an announcement I welcome. However, keeping the buildings open doesn’t mean communities keep the services. What remains unclear is how many services regional Tasmania will lose to the city centres.
The Government has proposed to consult with communities about the changes once the white paper is released but judging by the Minister’s comments it seems decisions have already been made about what changes will happen. If this is the case the promise to consult is a hollow one and Tasmanians will have every right to feel mislead.
Make sure you keep an eye on the newspapers and on the website http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/onehealthsystem for details about when consultation on the white paper happen because your future health care needs depend on the Government getting this right.