Thursday 17 October 2013

Hansard of the Legislative Council



[2.33 p.m.]

Mr FINCH (Question) - My question is to the honourable leader. In view of rumours in my electorate, could you confirm that the present services available at the Beaconsfield District Health Service will continue as they are, particularly aged care and palliative care? Can the government give an assurance that there will be full public consultation before any reduction in services at the Beaconsfield Hospital? If any services at the Beaconsfield Hospital are closed, how will they be replaced locally? Does the state government have a commitment to provide local health services in the communities which need them?

Mr FARRELL - Mr President, I thank the honourable member for Rosevears for his question.

(1) The current services at Beaconsfield District Health Service include community health services, residential paid care and some in-patient beds under a multipurpose service model. The community health services include day care, community nursing, home care, social work, physiotherapy, and some visiting services. Whilst beds within the facility can be used flexibly, in general up to 18 beds are used for aged care and up to four beds are used for inpatients including subacute care and palliative care. The facility receives funds from the Australian Government and the Tasmanian government. No decision has been made to vary the existing level of services at Beaconsfield.

(2) The building at Beaconsfield has been assessed as a potential project for capital improvement. Redevelopment on the existing site is possible but due to its hillside location is not preferred since it is not particularly amenable for aged care residents and recovering patients who should have easy access to level areas. If it is determined that the facility should be rebuilt in a new location with level access and proximity to town services then consideration will be given to the services to be included since this directly affects the nature, scale and cost of any new building. This is an essential component of any major capital works project and includes consultation with the community and key stakeholders.

(3) No decision has been made to close any existing services at Beaconsfield. As part of the consultation process, should a new capital works project be considered at Beaconsfield, alternative service options will be considered. This is a usual part of the process and reflects the fact that community needs may have changed or that other services or new ways of organising services may have emerged. The provision of residential aged care, for example, is not a service that the state prefers to manage, however it does so when there are not any other local providers. There are other providers in the West Tamar municipality who would be considered as stakeholders. Community health services are generally considered to be best provided in local areas albeit a certain economy of scale is required for some allied health services.

(4) The Tasmanian government maintains a commitment to the provision of local health services appropriate to community needs and meeting required standards for patient safety and quality as well as efficiency and effectiveness.