Faced with a budget black hole of $2.1 billion over the next 10 years, Health Minister Michael Ferguson today refused to rule out dramatic cuts to frontline services.
Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said Mr Ferguson has left the door open for regional hospital closures, co-payments at emergency departments and an 8 per cent efficiency dividend in health.
In Question Time, Treasurer Peter Gutwein admitted the state’s budget bottom line faced a hit of $2.1 billion, including $1.7 billion in health, after the Abbott Government slashed funding.
Under Labor questioning Mr Ferguson refused to rule out closing Tasmania’s regional hospitals.
“This is alarming news for residents of Beaconsfield, New Norfolk, St Marys and Smithton and the surrounding communities,” Ms White said.
“Mr Ferguson must categorically rule out closing any of these vital regional health providers.”
Mr Ferguson also kept his options open on imposing a co-payment for emergency department visits and an 8 per cent cut to the health department budget.
“Labor put eight questions to Mr Ferguson today on health but he was short on answers,” Ms White said.
“Tasmanians should rightfully be concerned at the handling of the health portfolio by Mr Ferguson.”