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Dr Frank Clark

Gynaecological Surgeon

36 Thistle St West.
South Launceston
Tasmania 7249

3 June y
The Honourable Michael Ferguson MP
Minister for Health
PO Box 537
Dear Michael,
I am disappointed, perplexed and annoyed by the action of the THS
to move patients off the LGH waiting list to have their surgery
performed interstate in Victoria.
The surgery is to be performed by surgeons totally removed from
the patients previous physical health, social and psychological
history. Surgeons who will simply be technicians performing surgery
by numbers, with no knowledge or perspective on the totality of the
particular patients condition. Surgeons who will have no
responsibility for the aftercare of the patient or responsibility for the
inevitable complications that will occur. Surgeons who will be
operating in private hospitals probably being paid under a fee for
service model.
How can you possibly believe and be able to defend this decision.
This should be seen for what it is, an attempt to reduce the waiting
list numbers so that they look good politically and increase the
governments chance of re-election.
I am perplexed that you could think that this is in the best interests
of the health of Tasmanians. Patients are far more than a number on
a waiting list, and a communities health should not be reduced to
such a statistic. The length of the THS waiting lists is not the sole
measure of the health of Tasmanians. That is not to say that we
should not strive to reduce our waiting lists. However moving
patients interstate for disjointed care by uninvolved health
professionals is absolutely the wrong way to reduce waiting lists and
should be seen for what it is, a political stunt.

This action will provide potentially poor care for patients, is a waste
of public money and poor for the economy, and is an insult to the
many health professionals working in Tasmania striving to do their
best and provide good health care and positive outcomes for their
My understanding is that patients are being taken off waiting lists in
a arbitrary way, medicine by numbers, and then flown interstate
with a support person, having interstate accomodation paid for and
their operation paid for before being flown back to have their
aftercare and ongoing health needs met by Tasmanian doctors,
nurses and allied health professionals. I am astounded that you are
doing this for patients in my area of care who will require a 10
minute procedure (not even an operation in the strictest sense of
the term). I am aware of one young woman taken off my waiting list
for a procedure that I very much doubt will be done in such a way as
to be helpful for her in a meaningful way. This is because it will be
done out of context. Operations by themselves do not define the
quality of health care, they are just a small facet of care that needs
to be undertaken by doctors who have an understanding of the
whole context of the patients situation.
This stunt is an insult to the dedicated staff working in our hospitals.
Almost every operating list that I do at the LGH only succeeds in
getting through the patients I place on the list because the other
nurses and doctors who work with me are prepared to stay back and
work overtime so that a patient doesn't get sent home. When we
have to send a patient home it is likely to be because of a directive
from THS not to spend more money on overtime, not because staff
will not work longer. And we get through, coping with emergencies
that inevitably arise, training nurses, medical students and specialty
registrars. If a patient gets cancelled I juggle the next few lists to
get them in.
This politically motivated stunt is also an affront to Tasmanias
ability to train new health professionals. Almost every new
consultant O&G in our department has been a training registrar at
LGH and come back. Your decision to move patients to Victoria is
being done in a cherry picking fashion, taking all the easy cases.
Well it is these easy case that provide surgical training for the
doctors who may well choose to come back to Launceston to work.
If these doctors don't get good training here, if the case load is not
adequate, they will leave disgruntled and will not come back.
Minister, why waste money sending patients to Victoria. This is
money that should be spent providing a sustainable service here in
Launceston, in Tasmania. Provide enough emergency department
staff, provide enough beds so there is less of a bed block, provide

enough staff to run all of our new theatres full time as they should
be functioning and as the staff want them to function. Be mindful of
what is in the best interests of patient care, care that is provided
close to where they live, by professionals who are aware of the
totality of the patients overall health. Be mindful of the
responsibilities you have to provide training opportunities for staff
who may well come back to the state for the long haul.
Minister, this move is wrong, a waste of tax payers money, poor for
patients health, and an insult to the states health professionals. It is
a shameful political stunt.
Sincerely yours,

Dr Frank Clark