Premier Peter Gutwein has suggested the Labor Opposition helped a group of 22 doctors at the Launceston General Hospital write a scathing letter to the Tasmanian Health Service in which they said patients were dying unnecessarily.
The letter, written by registrars in the LGH’s emergency department, has shone a light on the dysfunction inside the hospital, with clinicians saying their workplace is unsafe due to unacceptable levels of bed block.
They said a patient had recently died in the waiting room, which they believed was because he wasn’t in a more highly monitored part of the hospital.
During Question Time in the House of Assembly this morning, Labor pressed the government on the letter.
As Health Minister Sarah Courtney was responding to a question from Opposition Leader Rebecca White, the Premier interjected, directing a comment across the chamber.
“Did you guys help them write the letter?” he said.
This prompted Deputy Labor Leader Michelle O’Byrne to rise to her feet, demanding Mr Gutwein withdraw his comment.
“It is actually a reflection on the staff at the LGH who have taken the unprecedented action of writing this letter – a letter that they have distributed,” she said. “It is absolutely inappropriate for the Premier to reflect on those staff. He should not undermine those staff.”
But Speaker Sue Hickey ruled that Ms O’Byrne’s request was not a point of order.
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Mr Gutwein stood by his comments, going on to say that Labor had attempted to “run with a ‘gotcha’ moment” by quoting from the letter in Parliament on Tuesday when it hadn’t been addressed to Ms Courtney and she hadn’t had a chance to read it.
“I would say to health professionals in the state: we want to work with you,” he said. “We are not interested, though, in silly ‘gotcha’ moments like the Opposition ran with yesterday.”
“We will work through the issues that are being raised.
“We want to do our very best for our community, for our health professionals, for our health service, for our hospitals.”
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