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Tasmania's overwhelmed health

Three week old correspondence from the nurses union, the Health Minister is accused of only responding to an hour before parliament sat this morning, has been part of another attempt to have him removed.

The letter apparently outlined dangerous strain on Tasmania's hospital system with an urgent plea for help.

The Opposition's David O'Byrne joined the push to have Minister Ferguson dumped.

"To ignore a letter crying out for help for weeks about suicide, about traumatic circumstances in our Emergency Department."

As with another recent bid, the government used its numbers to crush Labor's no confidence motion in the Minister.

The delivery of youth mental health services was also a major attack platform in Question Time.

Opposition leader Rebecca White gunning for Health Minister Michael Ferguson over a distinction on the structuring of services in hospitals.

"Misleading the public, families, who have been informed by him that there will be a dedicated adolescent mental health unit at the Launceston Hospital and the Royal Hobart Hospital, to then last week backtrack and claim there are beds, but not units."

Minister Ferguson issued a statement in response soon after, here is part of it: 

Labor is either being ignorant or wilfully misleading around what they have been told previously both in Parliament and at Estimates.

Just last year in Budget Estimates, I explained in response to a question from Sarah Lovell that not all beds on the new wards being constructed for young Tasmanians would be dedicated for mental health.

I said:

There is a commitment for all those beds, 16 as part of the new Royal redevelopment as well as eight at 4K.  I like the way you asked the question, because they are not just mental health for adolescents; they are adolescent beds within the paediatric zone.”*

Furthermore, in Parliament just two weeks ago I said:

“I confirm and reiterate my assurance that there will be designated mental health beds on that ward as part of the dedicated mental health unit which is a safe and secure facility. However, not all 16 beds will be for mental health patients. The model of care and exact numbers are subject to current consultation with clinicians, and, as I have said, signed off by the Chief Psychiatrist to ensure that it is safe and provides the care that young Tasmanians need. I also reiterate that all 16 beds have operational funding in the Budget as I have previously stated.”

Our plan to open Tasmania’s first ever dedicated adolescent mental health units within the children’s wards at the RHH and LGH has not changed and was part of the policy we took to the election last year**.

The exact care model and bed numbers are currently being worked through by our expert clinicians.