Dr Bastian Seidel says $240,000 report is sitting with the government

Pressure from Tasmanian MLC to release urgent health care centres report

A $240,000 report from 2018 looking at establishing urgent health care centres in Tasmania should be released, Labor MLC Bastian Seidel says.

Dr Seidel, a GP and member for Huon, said primary care was “absolutely essential” to take the pressure off emergency departments at Tasmanian hospitals.

In Question Time in the Legislative Council, he said the government awarded $240,000 in taxpayers’ funding to an external consultant for a feasibility study on urgent care centres.

“According to the (Health) Department’s annual report on health in Tasmania, the study was completed before Christmas in 2018,” Dr Seidel said.

“Does the government, after paying almost a quarter of a million dollars for a feasibility study, ever intend to release the report to the public, and if so, when?”

Leader for the government in the Legislative Council, Leonie Hiscutt, said the government was always keen to look at opportunities to increase and improve after-hours medical services.

She said urgent care centres operated in other jurisdictions.

“The feasibility study report has been completed and the dept of health will be engaging with key medical stakeholders and releasing the report shortly,” Ms Hiscutt said.

The Tasmanian Greens also want the study released.

Greens Franklin MHA Dr Rosalie Woodruff wrote to Health Minister Sarah Courtney in May asking for an update into establishing urgent care centres in Launceston and Greater Hobart

Dr Rosalie Woodruff
 Dr Rosalie Woodruff

“I note that since then, Newstead Medical Centre announced plans to expand its operations to provide an urgent care centre,” Dr Woodruff said.

“I am writing to request that the results of the feasibility study be made public. This would enhance the public debate on policy matters in your portfolio of health.”

She also wrote again three days ago.

“While I understand your Department has rightly been focussed on Tasmania’s COVID-19 response, I fail to see how the release of a study that was completed more than a year before the pandemic commenced would lead to any additional burden on health resources,” Dr Woodruff wrote.

“If anything, the pandemic has only increased the need for a public debate about how we can meaningfully tackle the issues facing service delivery in our health system.”

In Western Australia a new care trial has started so patients with urgent but not life-threatening issues can go to a GP quickly.

About 130 GPs have signed up to the trial to treat people with health ailments including minor fractures, dislocations, stings, acute neck pain, and wound infections.

The trial will examine whether treating patients in urgent care centres will reduce pressure on overcrowded hospital emergency departments.