By Sam Wainwright
HOBART — About 5000 people participated in a January 29 protest over funding cuts and staff shortages at Royal Hobart Hospital, Tasmania's major tertiary referral hospital.
The demonstration, organised by the Save the Royal Committee, was supported by management and staff as well as a broad cross section of the public.
The protesters marched from the hospital to Parliament House, where they heard several speakers. A number of Liberal politicians attended, eager to associate themselves with the campaign against cuts imposed by the Labor government.
Labor Party supporters circulated a leaflet claiming the hospital would be even worse off under a Liberal government but failing to answer concerns about shortages at the hospital. Labor MP John White didn't attend, though he is minister for health.
Dr Michael Loughead said the hospital's annual budget had been cut by $10.5 million but the hospital management was not prepared to administer the cuts dictated by the government. He called on the politicians to decide publicly which services should be cut.
The rally called on the government to provide guaranteed funding under a Tasmanian Resource Allocation Model. Nursing staff spokesperson Fiona Brooks said recent graduates had been sacked two weeks after graduation and then re-employed as temporary staff.