Latrobe Council

Mersey Hospital's Future Remains a Political Football

19 June 2015


FOR RELEASE: Saturday, 6 June, 2015


“Last week’s announcement by the Federal Government of an allocation of $148.5 million in funding over two years for the Mersey Community Hospital is welcomed by Latrobe Council but again serves to highlight that the hospital will remain a political football and, as such, will continue to be subject to the various political machinations and election cycles at both the Federal and State
level,” said Mayor Peter Freshney.

Whilst clearly recognising and understanding the ‘political advantage’ of the hospital being situated in a key seat, Latrobe Council remains disappointed that a five to ten year funding agreement could not have been negotiated and a clear divide established between politics and the health and wellbeing of the people of the greater Mersey catchment area.

“Our hospital is an integral part of this community and it is frustrating to have it continually placed in this position and to revisit this debate on an all too regular basis.  The ever present conjecture and speculation over the Mersey’s future causes wide spread community angst and does precious little to assist in the development of long term plans that would enable it to play an
integral role in the provision of health care to all Tasmanians. This same conjecture and associated inability to provide longer term tenure for current and potential staff and medical specialists has been detrimental to the overall management of the hospital and any previous attempts to secure the Mersey’s position as a key health care provider.

The State Government’s decision to move to a One State, One Health Care System model provides the perfect platform to realise the Mersey’s potential and clearly define its role in providing improved patient outcomes for Tasmanians, no matter where they choose to live.

Latrobe Council has been involved in discussions and forums over past months and has made a submission to the Minister outlining our position and concerns. We eagerly await the release of the final report and plans for restructure of the provision of health services in Tasmania.

Latrobe Council has deliberately avoided becoming a contributor to the political and public debates that have raged over past months but has worked quietly and diligently in an attempt to ensure the Mersey remains a cornerstone in the delivery of health services in the region and across the state.

We clearly understand that not every regional health facility can provide or sustain the provision of specialist services in all facets of health care but we are unequivocal in our support for the retention of 24 hour Accident and Emergency services at the Mersey Community Hospital and in each of the other three regional hospitals,” reiterated Mayor Freshney.

The additional Federal funding should provide for the retention of key services at the Mersey while also supporting the provision of additional services as outlined by the Minister in the White Paper - Exposure Draft.

Latrobe Council has a clear understanding and acceptance that improved health outcomes for patients must be the sole priority throughout this current reform process.

“We reiterate our clear intention to have the Mersey removed from the local, state and federal political agendas and our absolute belief that it can and should play an integral role in the delivery of health care to Tasmanians for decades to come.

We have placed considerable faith and trust in the Minister and the team he has engaged to assist in delivering the agenda that he has clearly articulated, but with that trust comes responsibility and an expectation that he and his team will deliver.  Releasing the White Paper will be one thing, but implementation and ownership going forward will clearly be another.

This is a one-off opportunity and our community’s future health and wellbeing is far too important to allow any other agenda to take priority in the decision making process.”


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