Tasmania is now facing a once in a generation opportunity to fundamentally change the way hospital and health services are delivered in Northern Tasmania, after the commitment by Calvary Health Care to invest $100 million in a new private hospital co-located with the Launceston General Hospital (LGH).
It is vital we use this investment to not just simply relocate the ageing St. Vincent’s and St. Luke’s hospital campuses, but that we also see it as an opportunity to undertake a full investigation into future health services and needs, including different models of care, to ensure the delivery of the highest quality and most affordable healthcare for both public and private patients.
Following Calvary’s unsolicited bid proposal to the Office of the Coordinator-General in 2017, the project has now progressed to the next phase. This involves the Assessment Panel and Calvary working together to finalise the appropriate location for the new hospital and defining exactly what is required to ensure the co-location ultimately increases and improves services and health outcomes for all Northern Tasmanians.
I certainly don’t profess to have all the answers, but as Tasmania’s largest not-for-profit health insurer which invests all its earnings and resources back into the communities we serve, St.LukesHealth is an important contributor in the North and has a role to play in improving health service outcomes for both our members and the wider community.
To ensure the best possible outcome for Northern Tasmanians through Calvary’s proposed investment, we believe it would be beneficial for the Government to consider the following:
- Ensuring LGH and Calvary work together to develop a strategy to both recruit new and retain current specialists in regional Tasmania.
- Allowing specialists to provide services in both the public and private hospitals without restriction, and ensuring enough support between both hospitals to provide specialists with an attractive work-life balance.
- Ensuring Launceston is an attractive prospect for specialists by allowing time for specialists to undertake research, with a view to improving patient outcomes.
- Eradicating the duplication of services to ensure funding allocated to health is spent efficiently; and finally
- Ensuring the Calvary project is incorporated as part of the larger Launceston Health Precinct strategy for increased and improved health service delivery.
The $260 million UTAS relocation, plus the $20 million Launceston City Heart project and the $100 million Calvary co-location all happening at the same time gives us an incredible opportunity to collaborate, innovate and deliver an example of how a regional city can become a nation leading example in regional health delivery.
With all these projects on the drawing board, the State Government also has the ideal opportunity to bring together Northern health stakeholders to create a better system for health services for Northern Tasmanians.
Let’s all get on board and not waste this once in a life time opportunity to make a real difference to the health of our local community.