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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Poor Little Tasmania – Political Football de Jour!

Having been around for a few years and actually being able to recall the election of the Whitlam Government and all those since, I think I can recognise the signs of national governmental policy implosion and rising political desperation – and that is just what I am seeing now.


The utterly unprecedented intervention to “save” the Mersey Hospital at Devonport is really a complete nonsense seen in any other light that as a political act of the most extreme desperation.


The whole situation is calmly reviewed and dissected by Professor Geoff Richardson is a stunning, lucid and rational piece that can be found here.


Key facts are:


1. Population of NW Tasmania which is served by the hospitals at Burnie and Devonport is about 105,000.


2. The Devonport Catchment is 43,000 people


3. This leaves Burnie with a catchment area of 62,000. With much greater capacity already, it is the obvious location for any single centre of excellence.


4. Even a population of 105,000 is probably not enough to provide a large enough drainage area to provide most specialists with an adequate case load, and to provide them with the support and peer group they need to do their job well , on which the quality of care and development of quality clinical teams depends (you need 200,000+) for this to really happen.


So what will happen we will have two non viable hospitals, both of which will kill more people than they should and save less people than they might have been able to.


What should have happened?


If the federal government had said here is $45M p.a. for your regional Hospital System. You in NW Tasmania allocate it to optimally support your hospital system, we could have had a really excellent and sustainable outcome. They would have even got lots of political points. Sadly this will not happen with these politically driven policy clowns in charge.


Can I say that when I see those ‘right-wing’ AMA types and those ‘left-wing’ academic types in violent opposition to the same plan I am always sure no good will come of any of it.


Oh! - and yes - what Prof. Richardson says about less patient safety and more patient suffering - he is dead right, if you forgive the pun!


Why is all this related to Health IT. Only in the sense that if this is the style of health policy presently emitting from this dying government, we had all better just sit back and wait for change. No good will happen in e-health with this mob running things in their present desperate mood.


David.


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your comparison of the respective catchment sizes is off.
You can't compare the immediate surrounds of Devonport with the immediate surrounds of Burnie, and then add in the West Coast of Tasmania to bump Burnie over the line. In fact, Devonport is the larger population center, and has many more close large towns than Burnie.
$45m would go a long way to establishing a centre of excellence at Ulverstone - roughly equidistant from the major population centres in NW Tasmania, though you'd get a bit of carrying on from people on the sparsely populated West Coast. I hope that's what Rudd does.

Aus HIT Man said...

Hi,

I used the figures Prof Geoff Richardson provides - so I suspect I am close - the key point is that there are more people closer to Burnie than Devonport as I read what he says.

Regarding the solution - it needs to be one site - with extra funds if people are generous. The current Federal Plan is silly - as I suspect you agree.

I have no worries about a neutral site - except it may be just too expensive to start from scratch.

David.

Jim Cocks said...

Like you, David, I not only remember, but worked for, the Whitlam, Fraser, Wran, Lewis, Greiner, Bjelke Petersen, Goss and a few others that I've either forgotten or repressed. Consider the following list of recent DOCITA eHealth Grants:
Cape Yorke $5m

Barwon Health $8.7m

Tassie Health $5m

Tumut/Batlow NSW $4.2m
All in marginal seats. So the Mersey one is simply part of a larger pattern of, yes, desperation .