CGHS welcomes funds

CENTRAL Gippsland Health Service has welcomed this week’s funding announcement by the Victorian Health Minister, David Davis, that it would receive $57.01 million for 2014/15 – an increase of $2.26 million on the previous year.

CGHS chief executive Frank Evans, said the health service was “very pleased” the state government’s submission for federal funding was successful as the service could have lost up to $1.2 million in funding for subacute/rehabilitation type services.

“While the funding increase for existing services is modest, we have been working hard to improve efficiency,” Dr Evans added.

“We are committed to doing even better going forward and have made changes to our organisational structure to assist.”

According to Dr Evans, CGHS is also looking at how it can treat more patients to ensure it benefits from the funding offered. “We are confident we can treat more patients than last year,” he said.

“We will benefit from a number of new specialists joining the CGHS team including a new general surgeon, paediatrician and physician.

“There is no doubt that we are operating in a very challenging environment. However our 10-year Health Plan and new Strategic Plan have made it clear where we are heading and the work needed to get there.”

Meanwhile the state opposition has promised to appoint an independent expert to find “missing beds” at Central Gippsland Health Service if it wins the November election.

Surgeon and former Australian Medical Association state president Doug Travis will conduct a state-wide census of bed and theatre capacity, and provide recommendations about how to increase the capacity of Victorian hospitals.

Shadow health minister Gavin Jennings said CGHS was facing $5.8 million in cuts over the next four years under the current Liberal-National government.

“Our health system is in crisis, Denis Napthine and the Liberals are hiding the facts, and we need to get to the bottom of it,” Mr Jennings said.

“This expert assessment will find out how Sale hospital can treat more people and run more efficiently.

We’ll resuscitate our failing health system by finding the missing beds.”

However, figures presented by Labor of Victorian health services performance data from January to March, show the CGHS emergency department is above key targets.

Ninety-one per cent of category two patients are treated within 10 minutes, well above the target of 80 per cent, over the reporting period.

Seventy-seven per cent of category three patients are treated within 30 minutes, above the 74 per cent target.

No patients waited longer than 24 hours in the emergency period.

The percentage of ambulance transfers within 40 minutes was 94.9 per cent, compared to the target of 90.

Seventy-eight per cent of patients stay less than four hours, above the target of 75.

The data shows 77 per cent of emergency department patients in all categories were treated within the appropriate time, below the 80 per cent target.

If the promised inquiry takes place Dr Travis will provide an interim report by March 31 next year with a final report by June 30.

Dr Travis will be supported by a team within the Health Department, and his reports will help inform Labor’s future investment in health services.

In preparing his reports, Dr Travis will be asked to identify the number of beds and theatres at each health service, how many are currently operational and how many are ‘closed, what minor capital works would allow additional beds to be opened, and strategies to improve the capacity of hospitals in order to reduce the elective surgery waiting list, free up overcrowded emergency departments and reduce the time ambulances spend in hospital car parks.

The inquiry announcement was welcomed by AMA Victorian president Dr Tony Bartone who introduced a note of caution to his association’s approval of the commitment saying all pre-election commitments must be carried out once in government.

He argued neither the Coalition nor Labor had a solid track record in this area.