Questions about gastroenterology crisis in public hospitals

Mrs Armitage (Launceston) to the Honourable Leader of Government in the Legislative Council, Dr Vanessa Goodwin -

1. Can the Leader please advise what the THS is doing to address the current gastroenterology crisis in our State public hospitals - considering there are currently 2600 scopes wait fisted at the Launceston General Hospital with 80% being Category I, as well as a severe backlog at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

2. Can the Leader further advise where the investment of $500,000 as advised on 12 October 2016 by Minister Ferguson, will be utilised to improve this situation.

3. While it is noted the Royal Hobart Hospital is recruiting an additional gastroenterologist plus a new gastroenterologist to replace a retiring member, can the Leader please advise with regard to the LGH situation with critical understaffing and an expanding workload overwhelming the service, whereby we currently have 1.SFTEs for Northern Tasmania plus covering the North West emergencies, with Dr Ray Wilson recently decreasing his hours to 0.4 FTEs and several gastroenterologists soon to retire which will then leave us with 1.24FTEs has the THS started a recruitment process and when will new Gastroenterologists be employed to address this crisis plus adequate funding.

4. Further I am advised that currently some Category I patients are waiting up to 6 months for their urgent colonoscopies. As the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme patients with positive faecal occult blood test are not being serviced within the 30 day and 3 month limits can the Minister advise the current status of our Advanced Trainee accreditation at the Launceston General Hospital and Royal Hobart Hospital.

Answer from Dr Goodwin -

1. The Colonoscopy Access Strategy was developed in response to increased demand and wait times for colonoscopies in Tasmania. The Strategy outlines the actions required to diagnose and appropriately respond to all of the underlying factors

contributing to the increased demand and wait list times, including:

. Seeking views from the gastroenterology community in Tasmania

. Audit of referrals against NHMRC guidelines

. Review of waitlist data to ensure appropriate assignation of urgency category and management

. Analysis of current models of care across Tasmania

. Establishment of agreed metrics and data collection processes for reporting and monitoring

. Workforce planning, including benchmarking to establish approved levels of specialist gastroenterology staff for service and population need

. Improved patient communication, including appropriate guidance for their need for the procedure and dynamic waiting list information / management

It is critical that these actions are taken to develop a sustainable public colonoscopy service that meets the population need.

2. The $500 000 investment by the Tasmanian Government is for additional Gastroenterology FTE at the Royal Hobart Hospital for 12 months to assist in working through its current wait list issues.

As the Honourable Member is aware, gastroenterologist Dr Wilson has reduced his hours. My advice is no certain retirement date was provided by Dr Wilson. Work is underway to recruit a new director, with advertising to occur shortly.

3. The Royal Hobart Hospital is fully accredited for an Advance Trainee Program for Gastroenterology.

4. The Launceston General Hospital is fully accredited for an Advance Trainee Program for Gastroenterology until 2018.

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