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Federal funding for elective surgeries

k block

Tasmania's embattled health system will receive $15 million of federal funding, being brought forward to address the staggering number of people waiting for elective surgeries. 

It comes after Labor claimed leaked Health Department figures revealed a record 10,837 people were on the elective surgery waiting list, nearly double the figure in mid-2017.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was in Hobart today, inspecting the new K Block at the Royal Hobart Hospital - which due to be up and running in February. 

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The $15 million funding being brought forward is part of a $20 million commitment - originally over four years - to support an estimated 6,000 elective surgeries and endoscopies over this period, with $5 million being rolled out now to support more than 2,200 colonoscopies.

“This adds to an annual health budget of almost $2 billion this financial year alone – a budget that is 40 percent higher than six years ago here in Tasmania,” Mr Hunt said.

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The Minister has also poured cold water over the idea of a Productivity Commission inquiry into the health system here to assess how efficiently money's being spent, something being advocated for by Clark Independent Andrew Wilkie and also Senator Jacqui Lambie.

"We're not proposing that, no," Mr Hunt said.

Mr Wilkie and Mr Hunt met earlier this week in Canberra, but it appears discussions didn't go very well - the Health Minister savaging the Clark Independent about failed negotiations during the Abbott Government years.  

"No person has ripped more money out of Tasmania's hospital system in history than Mr Wilkie. He turned his back on an additional $500 million. He should apologise, he should explain why he believed it was in Tasmania's best interest, and he should quietly hang his head in shame," Mr Hunt said.  

Meanwhile Labor claims the $15 million announced today won't go far.

“What we know is that when the first $5million of that funding was released, it paid for only 18 elective surgeries," Shadow Health Minister Sarah Lovell said. 

“Simple maths would suggest that the $15 million re-announced today would pay for only an additional 54 surgeries. Labor this week revealed secret Government figures that showed surgery waiting lists had spiralled out of control to almost 11,000 people, the highest level on record."