Questions and Answers
Will One Health System reforms mean that my hospital will close?
No. Every hospital will remain open and have an important role to play in our One Health System. The difference is that hospitals will specialise in the procedures they are best equipped to provide and patients will go to where the best service and experts are.
Under the One Health System reforms:
- The North West Regional Hospital (NWRH) will build on its role in providing acute general hospital services to the North West region.
- The Mersey Community Hospital (the Mersey) will continue to provide a mixture of general hospital services to the local community as well as delivering more local services such as mental health and palliative care services. It will also become an elective day surgery centre, providing important services for patients from around the State.
- The Launceston General Hospital's (LGH) role as the principal referral hospital for the North and North West of Tasmania will be strengthened. It will provide a number of complex services for the North and North West and will play a greater role in supporting . Greater attention will be given to using the services and expertise at the LGH to support quality services across the North and North West.
- The Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) will continue to be the principal referral hospital for the South and will also provide a number of tertiary services for the State.
This new, better coordinated approach will result in less duplication and waste, so a greater share of health funding can go towards more people getting treated and waiting lists being reduced.
The benefits of one health system will be shared around the state with higher quality services and better results for patients.
Will I have to travel further to receive care?
Some people will need to travel outside of their region to access a small range of highly complex surgical procedures. To make travel easier, however, we will look at how we can strengthen transport and accommodation support.
Evidence shows that, for many high complexity services, outcomes are better when larger volumes of service are provided - that is, if it is done more often, the quality and efficiency of the service improves. Tasmania is too small to do everything everywhere.
Many people will travel less.
More low complexity services will be provided in the North and North West, meaning that less people will have to travel for these services. The people that will benefit from not having to travel will be far more than the number of people that will need to travel to access quality health services.
Can I still get help at my local hospital when I need it?
Yes. Emergency care will be available in all four acute hospitals: the North West Regional Hospital, the Mersey Community Hospital, the Royal Hobart Hospital and the Launceston General Hospital.
The One Health System reforms are about giving you confidence that the care that you receive is safe and high quality. If it can't be provided at the hospital closest to you, you will be stabilised and transferred. Ambulance Tasmania will also have clear protocols for taking you straight to the hospital that can provide you with the care that you need.
If there is no Intensive Care at Mersey Community Hospital, can I still have surgery there?
Yes. In fact we intend to increase the number of elective day surgical procedures performed at the Mersey. It is very uncommon that someone would require intensive care treatment after elective day surgery. In the unlikely event that they do, they will be stabilised and transferred to one of the other three hospitals depending on the condition.
Is this about taking services away from the regions and making people travel to the larger hospitals in Launceston or Hobart?
No. The One Health System reforms are about providing access to better services.
Some highly complex services (such as complex throat cancer) and upper gastrointestinal surgery) will only be done in the Launceston General Hospital or Royal Hobart Hospital because that is where we can deliver safe, high quality services. Not many of these are done each year, but they are critically important for those that need them.
Low and medium complexity surgery such as general surgery (eg. removing an appendix or repairing a hernia) and low complexity orthopaedic surgery (eg. basic knee and hip replacements) will still be done in each region.
Many low complexity services will be increased in regional areas. For example, new subacute services will be introduced at the Mersey including:
- New rehabilitation services, including subacute services for stroke patients
- New mental health services, including support for people in the North and North West that need help with drug and alcohol dependencies
- New geriatric services at the Mersey, meaning that elderly will travel less to receive these services.
- New Palliative Care service to provide end of life support