Keeping Health Strong Tue 29 May 2012 Michelle O'Byrne Minister for Health Download hi-res version The Minister for Health, Michelle O'Byrne, said today the Tasmanian health system remained strong through a challenging period of reform. Ms O'Byrne said the hard work of staff throughout the Department of Health and Human Services meant the impact of savings in health had been lessened. "We made every attempt to find savings that did not affect patient care and to a great extent, we were able to do just that," she said. "Where there was an impact, particularly in elective surgery, we are tracking well in comparison to expectations. "As at March 31 this year, the waiting list for elective surgery had increased by just 143 since the end of the last financial year and all hospitals remain well below the national benchmark for median waiting times. "This highlights the fear and hysteria the Liberal Party has been pushing since last year when Jeremy Rockliff claimed the waiting list would blow out by 4000 people a year for three years." Ms O'Byrne said the State Government had invested in health consistently and significantly over many years. "That helped create the strong health system that Tasmanians rely on - a health system that performed more elective surgery per capita in 2010-11 than any other jurisdiction and had more doctors and nurses per capita than the national average. "Even after making savings, we are still employing more frontline health professionals than we were in June 2008. "Comparing 31 June 2008 to 14 April this year, there are 93 extra nurse FTEs across the health system, 111 more doctors and 88 more Allied Health Professionals. Ms O'Byrne said the bureaucracy had been the focus of significant savings. "Since the end of the last financial year, we have reduced the central Department, what people commonly term the 'bureaucracy', by 163.92 FTEs, or a reduction of roughly 20 per cent. "And we continue to find savings in telecommunications, travel, vehicle arrangements and efficiencies." Better rostering, cuts to the use of locums and lowering overtime had all delivered savings. "Overtime has gone from $19.19 million to 31 March 2011 for the 2010-11 financial year to $15.2 million so far this financial year comparing similar periods (31 March 2012) - a reduction of $3.98 million."