Concern hospital staff will leave as health crisis mounts

THE deteriorating state of Tasmania’s health system could mean doctors, nurses and paramedics leave the state in droves, the State Government has been warned.

With ambulance ramping and bed block plaguing the Royal Hobart Hospital, Tasmanian medical professionals fear a mass exodus of staff will add to the state’s poor reputation and make it impossible to recruit medics from interstate.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian secretary Emily Shepherd said members had spoken of seeking jobs interstate to find better working conditions.

“We’ve also heard from interstate nurses expressing little desire to come work here where the conditions are so stretched,” she said. “Unfortunately it feels as though our calls for assistance are being ignored. I’m not sure how much longer it can continue.”

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners past president Bastian Seidel said the risks can “no longer be ignored”.

“I urge Premier Will Hodgman to take immediate action. Over and over again doctors and nurses have raised concerns about the RHH. Patients will be put at risk,” he said.

It comes as dozens of junior RHH doctors signed a 10-page letter to the health department, outlining frustration at working conditions and staff levels.

Independent health analyst Martyn Goddard said the letter suggested the health system was near “tipping point”.

“We’re not quite at that point, but gosh we’re pushing it,” he said. “I fear what that point might be and what would happen if next time it’s not a letter, it’s a mass walkout.

Australian Medical Association Tasmania president John Burgess said he feared how the health system would look in a year. “More budget spending is clearly needed in certain areas and more transparency should be afforded to the public so we can better understand how the system is performing,” he said.

Health Minister Sarah Courtney said she had spoken with hospital leadership.

“The Government is progressing a range of initiatives to provide more support and boost the capacity of our hospital services,” she said.