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Tasmanian Government to scrap new hospital -

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Tasmanian Government to scrap new hospital

The World Today - Monday, 18 May , 2009 12:48:00

EDMOND ROY: The Tasmanian Government is getting ready to scrap its plans to spend a billion dollars
to build a new hospital in Hobart.

The reason the Government's moving to dump the new hospital is last week's Federal Budget that left
Tasmania with a billion dollar shortfall in GST revenue.

The State's Cabinet is today discussing the possibility of adopting the Liberal's plan to redevelop
the hospital at its current site.

It's a cheaper option to building a brand new hospital one Hobart, but it's not popular with
medical staff who still want a new hospital.

Felicity Ogilvie reports from Hobart.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Last week the Tasmanian Government saved money by getting rid of the Department
of Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts.

Today the new billion dollar Hobart Hospital is on the chopping block.

RAY LOWENTHAL: I think everyone will be very dissapointed because it's quite clear to anyone who
works there that the hospital is well overdue for redevelopment.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Professor Ray Lowenthal - he's a cancer specialist at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Professor Lowenthal is also the secretary of the Tasmanian branch of the AMA (Australian Medical
Association).

RAY LOWENTHAL: The current hospital is, the centrepiece of it, is 80 years old so it is generally
agreed around the world and even around Australia that 30 years is about the lifespan of hospitals.

The Children's Hospital in Melbourne is being rebuilt; that's only 30 years old. The Rudd
Government just gave $1.5-billion to rebuild the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne; that's
only 30 years old.

So the fact that a hospital is 80 years old, it's got all sorts of problems with plumbing,
electricity and just the whole fabric of the building and the current site is totally overcrowded.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Tasmanian Government had promised to spend a billion dollars building a new
hospital down on Hobart's waterfront.

But a billion dollar shortfall in GST revenue is changing those plans.

Dr Frank Nicklason is the chairman of the Royal Hobart Hospital's Medical Staff Association

He says staff are disappointed but not surprised that they're no longer going to get a new
hospital.

FRANK NICKLASON: I guess it's something that realistically people would have been and have been
aware that the financial crisis was going to be a major problem and we didn't expect a new hospital
would go ahead.

FELICITY OGILVIE: State Cabinet is meeting today to consider adopting the Liberal's plan to
redevelop the hospital at its current site in Hobart's CDB.

The Liberal's Brett Whiteley says he understands why staff want a new hospital built.

But a new hospital would cost a billion dollars and Mr Whitely says at $400-million - it'd be
cheaper to redevelop the current hospital.

BRETT WHITELEY: It can be done. Nine floors, 35,000 extra square metres, it will give everyone the
room they need to move and to develop and to provide the 21st century technology that's required.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Dr Frank Nicklason says eventually a new hospital will have to be built.

FRANK NICKLASON: There really is a need for a better hospital for Tasmania so that we can recruit
the best specialists, retain staff and that reality remains regardless of what the economic
situation is.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Professor Ray Lowenthal says staff are making do.

RAY LOWENTHAL: If I teach a group of medical students, we usually end up standing in a corridor
talking because there is no tutorial rooms for them. This is supposed to be a teaching hospital, we
are supposed to be competitive with interstate in attracting students, so there are all sorts of
frustrations.

On the other hand, I have to say that the staff, because the staff are so committed the place works
very smoothly.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The State Government will make an official announcement about the future of the
Hobart Hospital later today.

PETER CAVE: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.