Elective surgery cuts confirmed

CENTRAL Gippsland Health Service faces having to make significant elective surgery cuts.

The service is facing a reduction of up to $638,000 in funding after confirmation Commonwealth Government health funding will be reduced.

About two months ago the state government was informed its share of Commonwealth health funding under an agreement signed last year would not be as large as previously expected because new population data from the recent census showed Victoria’s population was not growing as fast as predicted.

Pleas to the Prime Minister from the chairs of Victoria’s health service boards to delay the $107 million reduction in funding to the end of the financial year were not successful, with CGHS facing a reduction of up to $638,000.

The cuts come as part of a $475 million cut over the course of the next four years.

Health service board chair John Sullivan said while the service were coming up with different strategies to deal with the cuts, elective surgery would likely take a significant hit.

“Obviously it means $638,000 less in the hospital budget for this financial year which is a significant amount; I think someone worked it ($638,000) out to be equivalent to 200 elective surgeries,” he said.

“If it had of been the start of the financial year we could have put things in place, but we had already done the budget and people have been employed.

“It’s going to affect elective (surgery) to make that cut in six months, you just can’t save that amount without affecting patient care unfortunately.”

Health Minister David Davis said Opposition parties voted against a motion in the Legislative Council expressing concern at the recently-announced reduction in Commonwealth health funding.

“The Office of the Independent Administrator of the National Health Funding Pool confirmed in writing a week ago that the Commonwealth has already started cutting state funding.

“The Federal Government is trying to justify this on the absurd basis that Victoria’s population fell by more than 11,000 in 2011 – while its very own Commonwealth Statistician produced figures that confirm that Victoria’s population grew by 75,400 people in the same period,” Mr Davis said.

“The Labor Health Ministers from Tasmania and South Australia are willing to stand up for their states, their hospitals and their patients, but Labor in Victoria is not concerned, and supports the Canberra cuts.

“Victorians should be rightly concerned about cuts to their hospital funding, and should equally be alarmed at the Opposition’s tacit approval of this shameful move that will only hurt patients in the name of a sham Federal surplus.”

However Shadow Health Minister Gavin Jennings has placed the blame for cuts to elective surgery squarely with the state government.

“If the Baillieu Government were at all concerned about improving our health system, Mr Baillieu wouldn’t be cutting $616 million from the health budget.

“Mr Baillieu and Mr Davis have presided over a major blowout in the elective surgery waiting list and ambulance response times, all because the system is starved of money,” Mr Jennings said.

“Mr Baillieu should stop trying to deflect responsibility by constantly blaming others and get on with the job of investing in a better health system.”