Eye hospital expansion keeps the doors open | The Advocate

news, local-news, Jeremy Rockliff, Jacqui Lambie, Mersey Community Hospital, Tasmanian Health Service, Devonport Eye Hospital

North West Eye Surgeons and the Devonport Eye Hospital have started building new consulting rooms in Oldaker Street after running out of space. The expansion project adds to the facilities at the Devonport Eye Hospital site across the road and will become the consulting rooms for the hospital. Practice manager Jane Haybittel said the eye hospital had the contract to provide surgery and care to public patients across the North-West, employing 45 staff. “We see between 16,000 and 18,000 patients a year between Burnie and Devonport to meet the growing demand for healthcare in the North-West,” she said. However, Mrs Haybittel said the practice battled to provide a sustainable service for the past five years. Mrs Haybittel said since her husband Michael arrived from South Africa in 1995 he was doing eye surgery at the Mersey Community Hospital and in Burnie. However, last year the MCH stopped performing eye surgery for the first time in 45 years. “Last year our option was to close the doors or expand to achieve sustainability for the specialists we have,” Mrs Haybittel said. “I went to the state government and gave them our figures with our option to close the doors.” Mrs Haybittel said the Health Minister was supportive regarding the situation. However, she said Senator Jacqui Lambie helped gain the assistance to stay open. “We’re the first ophthalmology practice in Australia to get federal funding,” Mrs Haybittel said. “Now we have a company from Sydney with 50 ophthalmologists that will become part of the consulting and the hospital so that it will be sustainable. “If we had to close the doors, 150,000 people would have been without ophthalmologists and we see over 150 children a month. Patients presenting at casualty see our ophthalmologists. Newborn patients can’t be discharged from Hobart unless an ophthalmologist sees them, but there was potentially going to be no service.” Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said under the Tasmanian Health Service’s Statewide Ophthalmology Contract, North West Eye Surgeons and the Devonport Eye Hospital is contracted to provide services to public ophthalmology patients in the North-West. “The Statewide Ophthalmology Contract is one of the private partnership strategies under the Tasmanian Government’s Statewide Elective Surgery Four-Year Plan 2021-2025 to assist in the delivery of more elective surgery,” Mr Rockliff said. He said in many regional areas, contracts were in place with private operators to provide specialist services for public patients where service volumes would otherwise be unviable.


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