Health System Strong Thu 27 September 2012 Michelle O'Byrne Minister for Health The Minister for Health, Michelle O'Byrne, said the skill and commitment of Tasmania's health professionals had minimised the impact of a tough year in health. Ms O'Byrne detailed indicative figures from the soon to be released DHHS progress chart comparing elective surgery volumes and the waiting list from 2010-11 and 2011-12. "It has been a very challenging year and the need to respond to falling revenues and rising costs has had an impact on elective surgery," she said. "As at June 30, 2012, the elective surgery waiting list was 7,869 compared to 7,782 on June 30, 2011 - an increase of 87 people or 1.1%. "In 2010-11, there were 16,354 admissions from the elective surgery waiting list - this was a year when the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed we were carrying out more elective surgery per capita than any other jurisdiction. "In 2011-12, there were 15,666 admissions from the waiting list. We conducted 688 fewer procedures last financial year, a decrease of 4.2%." Ms O'Byrne said the figures compared the two financial years and so do not pick up the fact the slow-down only took full effect in the second half of the financial year. "These figures highlight the scaremongering that Jeremy Rockliff has been engaging in since last year," she said. "He claimed over 12,000 Tasmanians - 4000 a year for three years - would miss out on elective surgery and the waiting list could triple to 20,000 as a result of our savings strategies. "He was wrong and irresponsible and has made a difficult year more difficult at every opportunity. "There has been an impact - it will continue to be felt - but it should not obscure the fact that we provided exceptional health care and that has not changed - more than 15,600 Tasmanians received elective surgery last year and are now enjoying a better quality of life." Ms O'Byrne said reducing the cost of overtime, locums and agency nurses have been key strategies in finding savings and more figures released today show we have been successful. "In December, Mr Rockliff stated as fact that millions of dollars more would be spent on overtime due to our savings strategies," she said. "In fact, we saved more than $6.3 million on overtime last financial year as well as saving more than $2.1 million on locum costs and $2.3 million on agency nurse costs. "We also saved more than $2.6 million in consultancies in 2011-12 compared to the previous year and over $1.5 million in travel, conference and training costs." Ms O'Byrne said Tasmanians could be confident that their health system will be there for them when they need it."It has been a difficult year but our health system is strong and it works. It is a testament to the skill, commitment and passion of everyone who works to deliver health services every day."