Hansard of the Legislative Council

Thursday 28 March 2013




[11.04 a.m.]

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, the restructuring of Tasmania's health services over the past few years to give greater regional autonomy has improved the experience of many patients. One of the aims of that reorganisation, which we debated here, was to make it easier and more efficient to move patients from one section of the system to another. For example, a patient admitted to Launceston General Hospital for acute care could be transferred to a local district health centre for recovery and thus be closer to family and friends.

The Beaconsfield District Health Centre in my electorate of Rosevears fulfils this role, together with numerous other roles. I have a statement from management:

We accommodate clients transferred from the LGH whenever we can. We believe it is important for community members to recover in a calm and caring environment close to their family and community.

The local community identifies strongly with the Beaconsfield facility, so strongly that most refer to it as the 'Beaconsfield Hospital', refusing to use its real title - Beaconsfield District Health Centre. It is the community's local hospital.

Many local people are intimately connected to it, having been a patient there or visited relatives or friends. Many are on first‑name terms with the staff when they meet them in the street or when they go to the Christmas function organised at Winkleigh Hall by the staff at the hospital.

I refer today to one recent case which demonstrates the community's attachment to the Beaconsfield hospital. It involves Mrs Robin MacDonald, who had a terminal illness. She had private health cover and she could have chosen to be admitted to a private facility in Launceston. However, Mrs MacDonald was familiar with what Beaconsfield could offer from visits she had made to friends being cared for there. Robin MacDonald died at Beaconsfield on 12 February. Her husband wrote a letter of thanks to the director of nursing, Rhonda McCoy. A copy of the letter was sent to me by Mr MacDonald - not Ms McCoy. I will quote from part of the letter:

She chose Beaconsfield because she knew you would provide all the care and attention she needed, in surroundings she enjoyed, with people she trusted, in an atmosphere that was relaxed but very professional. Consequently her last days were as happy and pain‑free as possible. No private facility could have done better.

Not only did your staff take such quality care of Robin, but all members of our family, and other visitors, were extremely well looked after, even on those occasions when there were lots there at once. We really appreciate the kindness and consideration of all your staff. I would like to give a special thanks to those staff members who were on duty the night she died, for the sensitive manner they related to my son and me.

It is a touching letter of thanks from a bereaved husband. As Mr MacDonald said, facilities such as Beaconsfield are a vital part of a quality health care system that families really appreciate.

The Beaconsfield District Health Centre offers a wide range of services, including residential aged care. They have respite for older people, and hospital care people for people recovering from major operations or illnesses. It also reaches into the community, with services like community nursing; they have home‑help services and women's health clinics. It has 22 beds available, four of which accommodate palliative care patients when required. Those of you in regional areas would realise how important those palliative care beds are.

The director of nursing, Rhonda McCoy, said visitors to all patients are actively encouraged. I will quote her:

When a client is palliative, the family are very much part of their care plan and are encouraged to be here as much as they like. We have a sitting room adjacent to our palliative care suite, with a private courtyard. We have a fold‑out bed, and family are welcome to stay overnight. We have a palliative care tea trolley for family use, and families are fed, watered and cared for as well as the client.

We have a social worker on staff who also provides support to families or clients when required.

My West Tamar community is grateful to have such a well‑managed and thoughtful health service and I am very proud to have it in my electorate of Rosevears.