The extent of budget cuts to Tasmania’s health system has been revealed in leaked budget documents.

The documents reveal the state’s public hospitals and other health services have been ordered to find savings of $110 million this financial year.

The ABC understands operational units within the health department have been given the figures and told to respond.

The Royal Hobart Hospital, which blew its budget by $30 million last financial year, has been told to find $38.5 million in savings.

The Launceston General Hospital needs to slash more than $16 million while the North West Regional is facing cuts of $11 million.

The documents also show $8.6 million will be cut from primary health services, which include community health centres.

Tim Jacobson of the Health and Community Services Union says it is a calculated decision to reduce health services.

“There is no way known that the state government can continue to make statements that the patient is at the centre of what they do when in fact they are going to comporomise the care that is able to be provided in those acute hospitals, but not only there but right across the department of health and human services,” he said.

Read the rest, ABC Online, HERE

• Andrew Wilkie: Government more interested in misleading than healing
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has called on the State Government to reverse big reductions to Tasmania’s health budget, which include a $38.5 million operating cut to the Royal Hobart Hospital.

``With these cuts the State Government has virtually abandoned its responsibility to deliver public health care,’’ Mr Wilkie said.

``These cutbacks are going to impact harshly on the most disadvantaged members of the community - people who simply can’t afford to get private health care,’’ he said.

``Operations are not going to occur and I assume staff will have to be laid off.  People’s lives will be at risk.

``The Government seems to have no idea how to get its budget in order in a responsible way.  It must rethink this latest crazy decision and look for savings elsewhere.’’

Mr Wilkie said the State Government also must start being honest with the community.

``In April I raised concerns about reports of a $40 million budget cut to the Royal Hobart Hospital and the Premier Lara Giddings’ response was to dismiss my concern as inaccurate and premature,’’ he said.

``I call on her to today apologise for misleading the Tasmanian community in April over the cuts, which were always on the table despite her denial.’’

I will not be silenced, says unions boss:

The head of Unions Tasmania is urging other members of the Labor Party to speak out about Government cutbacks.

Kevin Harkins has criticised the Government on several issues, including public sector job losses, and says he will not be silenced.

The Labor Party’s West Hobart branch has written a letter urging the party to stop Mr Harkins from speaking out.

Mr Harkins, who is also the Labor Party’s state vice-president, says he will not be gagged and he wears the criticism as a “badge of honour”.

“When you’re upsetting the ALP machine, in some respects, you must be doing something right because they can’t take it for granted that they’re just going to continually get support,” he said.

“I’d encourage ALP members to voice their concern if they have any and not to be silenced.

Read the rest on ABC Online: I will not be silenced, says unions boss

First published: 2011-07-21 05:55 AM

• Tim Jacobson, HACSU Assistant State Secretary: Documents Reveal Massive Cuts in Southern Mental Health Services

In documents obtained by the Health and Community Services Union the State Government is proposing massive job and service cuts across Southern Mental health Services as a component of the $100.2M savings to be achieved across the DHHS this year.

The documents foreshadow the reduction of staffing by in excess of 40 FTE front line positions across a range of areas including Psychology, Nursing, Direct care staff, Pharmacy, case Management and Quality and Safety.

The Documents titled “Total Cost Reduction Strategies for MHS South – Final Version” also outline foreshadowed outsourcing of one of the Southern facilities to the private sector as well as the outsourcing of the Mental Health Help Line.

The Documents outline a two stage process to undertake reductions in staffing and services over this financial year and outline the risks associated with each of the savings strategies.

Some of the risks identified include compromising staff and client safety, increased workload for remaining staff, complete loss of Case management Services to clients, loss of morale and increased potential for serious incidents.

Tim Jacobson, HACSU Assistant Secretary said today “These cuts are a betrayal of some of the most vulnerable people in our community and highlight the fact that many clients will no longer be provided vital Mental Health services.”

“The Ministers continued rhetoric that “we need to keep patient care at the centre of our decision making” is purely and simply hollow words. The measures outlined in these documents show that it is money, not patients that is driving decision making.”

“This year the Federal Government provided a boost of $1.5B in funding across Australia for Mental Health services. This is clearly a case of ‘giving with one hand and taking with the other.” He said.

It is understood that cost reduction strategies have been developed for Mental Health Services in the North and North West but the detail has not been released.

Further cuts will need to be made next year to achieve the $150M budget task set by the Premier in 2011-2012 financial year across the DHHS.