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AMA Tasmania notes the news of Health Minister Sarah Courtney’s urgent meeting held with Departmental and Royal Hobart Hospital leadership last night as a positive sign that the Minister is stepping in and taking control.

However, the measures announced today open more questions than provide answers. Senior RHH clinical leaders and junior medical staff have not been fully engaged in these discussions, so the AMA is unable to comment on whether the meeting will produce results that will meaningfully address the concerns of junior medical staff and the state wide hospital access crisis.

The AMA believes that at a time of crisis such as this, the Minister should be engaging directly with the staff concerns, including willingly fronting the junior doctors who have bravely stepped forward to make their concerns known.

AMA once again calls on the government to be transparent and open, to provide positive, immediately implementable solutions to this health crisis, along with access solutions for both the RHH and the LGH, and guaranteed recruitment of more junior doctors above and beyond the number of full-time equivalents presently budgeted at the Royal.

To this end will the Minister guarantee the second Medical Registrar position on night shifts will be made permanent? Or, do we risk losing it yet again as has already occurred in October of this year following its introduction as part of the Access Solutions?

Are the extra 12 junior medical staff new positions, or are they the extra 12 positions that have already been put into place this year above the establishment for junior doctors? If they are merely consolidating what has occurred this year, it will make no difference to the issues raised by the junior doctors in their letter. The Minister must guarantee increased, protected teaching time for our junior doctors and not just ‘measures’ to improve access.

We wait to see the detail behind the proposal to look at after-hours shift work for junior doctors before passing judgment. Changes to overnight staffing models have been promised in the past and not delivered. We note that there is no commitment from the Minister to fundamentally reform the governance and cultural issues that continue to beleaguer the Tasmanian Health System. What will the government do if they cannot recruit to their junior doctor positions?

Further, where is the money coming from to fund any new initiatives; this funding needs to be recurring?

Will the government now stop the cuts to the health budget? And when will the hospitals around the state receive their budgets?

The LGH is facing many of the dire issues confronting the RHH, and we urgently call upon the Minister to meet with the LGH clinical leadership in the north of the state to provide solutions to the very same challenges. ENDS

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