Media release

There is no do-over for the first 100 days

Dr John Saul, President of AMA Tasmania, commented, "the sudden announcement that St Helen's Private Hospital in Hobart will close next month because operator Healthscope would not fund the repairs is distressing.

"At a time when we know there is already immense pressure on our hospital systems across the entire state, this decision is even more alarming.

"There is no denying that pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby signal unprecedented change and hope for the future. However, for some women, it can be overshadowed by mental illness or difficulty helping a mother and baby adjust to a sleeping and feeding routine that works for both.

"Renovate or realise seems to be an easy business decision to make; however, we aren't talking bricks and mortar; we are talking about the impact the first one hundred days makes on bubs life and the ongoing impact of the loss of these eight private beds in this purpose-built mental health unit which actively supported psychological and other interventions by dedicated and highly trained staff in the only service of its kind in Tasmania.

"While we acknowledge that the Tasmanian government quickly came forward to re-commit existing three public beds, this is not enough to cater for the current demand for these services, especially with the closure of the private beds. Neither is the location of the beds within a child and adolescent mental health unit appropriate to provide the right environment needed for these mothers and their babies, nor is it equipped to deal with this kind of specialised support.

"Babies' mental well-being is imperative to their mental health into adulthood. The early years of a child's life signify a lifelong mental health journey that risk factors can adversely influence, including pre-and post-natal stress or parental mental illness.

"The cost of untreated perinatal problems to society in the long term compared to the cost of immediate treatment is enormous. In contrast, the human cost of overall quality of life is immeasurable.

"What doesn’t appear immeasurable though is the cost of private health insurance because the cost to providers for facilitating private health care appears to be continuously weighed against the health of Tasmanians.

"The support offered by the government isn't like-for-like, and we call on our Health Minister, Premier Rockliff, to do more to prioritise our Tasmanian mother's and child's mental health.

"Perinatal mental health is common - the mother's health is linked to the baby, and by helping the mother, you are, by its very nature, aiding the baby now and into the future, Tasmania's future.">>>ENDS

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