There is no pleasure taken when reporting on issues relating to the Launceston General Hospital and other health services or outcomes.
There is a responsibility assumed that health will only ever be criticised in matters of urgency and great need.
Not for the sake of a cheap headline. This is because people in the community need to feel safe. They need to know that they can get the health care they require when necessary. It’s why you won’t read story after story highlighting individual cases. If and when we report on those stories, we do so with the bigger picture in mind.
Constant critiquing of the hospital would also go against the city’s vision to attract professionals to live and work here in Northern Tasmania. One of the first things people will do when choosing a place to live would research the quality of services – the LGH is a critical service.
With that in mind, when more than two dozen doctors write a letter to say the hospital is heading into dangerous territory, something has got to give. When criticised, state governments (past and present) are quick to highlight the “record spending” on health. This is to demonstrate investment.
What isn’t noted is that the health budget will always grow ad be a record – that’s because the cost of delivering health outcomes will always increase year after year.
The next line is usually something about staff. They are quick to mention how many staff they have recruited but not how many are additional positions, not vacancies.
On Tuesday, when the letter was revealed, the Gutwein government said it would work with the staff to resolve the issues highlighted. But the release didn’t end without a shot at the opposition, reminding people that back in the day Labor closed wards and removed beds from the health system in response to the Global Financial Crisis.
In 2017, then health minister Michael Ferguson issued a release accusing Labor of playing politics with health and avoiding the facts. Perhaps it’s time for the Gutwein government to focus on leading, stick with the facts and implement real change to improve the systems, and therefore health outcomes, at the LGH.