IMPACTS of Federal government funding cuts at Central Gippsland Health Service may not be as severe as initially thought.
CGHS board chair John Sullivan said the board was hopeful CGHS could find ways to save the required $638,000 without impacting on patient services.
“At this stage we are considering various actions to pull back $638,000,” he said.
“At this point in time the board is still looking for ways to save money and reduce expenditure without affecting patient services.
“We don’t want to go closing emergency departments or surgery.”
Mr Sullivan said the CGHS executive would make further investigations and report back on February 6.
The investigations follow a request by Health Minister David Davis to hospital boards to work with their chief executives to develop plans to deal with the reduction while protecting services.
The state government has also introduced an elective surgery funding initiative, with $35 million allocated to private hospitals to provide about 8300 operations, at a bid price, which is about five per cent cheaper than standard surgery costs.
The final $9 million of the scheme will be shared between 10 public and private hospitals and surgery centres which have partnered with public hospitals to provide another 2100 operations.
Mr Davis said public hospitals would receive a $15.3 million cut in funding as a result of the federal government cuts.
“There’s less to go around,” he said.
“That’s $15.3 million less that our hospitals will receive in January, and every other month until the end of June.
“That’s $107 million less in total over the current financial year, as part of a $475 million cash grab over four years.”
Mr Davis said $638,000 would be taken from the CGHS budget over the seven months until June.
“The budget was already finalised and signed off before Canberra announced its cut, so Central Gippsland (Health Service) has no alternative but to cut services,” he said.
However Mr Davis’s claims have been rejected by the state opposition which pointed out the cuts followed a funding adjustment by the federal government based on new population data from last year’s census, which meant Victoria had to repay $40 million from the last financial year and suffer a cut of $67 million this year.
The adjustment, which followed Victorian government cuts of $616 million, caused a bitter dispute between state and federal treasurers and health ministers late last year.
“Canberra tried to justify its funding rip-off by claiming that we need fewer services because we’ve had a population exodus that we’ve got 11,000 fewer people living in Victoria than we had a year earlier,” Mr Davis said.
“However, its very own Commonwealth Statistician produced figures to confirm that Victoria’s population grew by 75,400 people in 2011.
“Our population hasn’t dropped but our hospital services are dropping as a result of the savage and heartless cuts.”
“Surgery lists are already being cut back, and the impact will show up in future months as more and more patients wait for their elective surgery for longer and longer periods.
“I acknowledge that times are tough economically, but the federal government should not be doing a fiddle with its books at the expense of Victorian patients.”