Bendigo Health funding cut fallout continues

MORE than 700 local people on elective surgery waiting lists could have their procedures delayed until next financial year by funding cuts, according to Bendigo Health chief executive John Mulder.

While the details of the $2.9 million cuts are still to be worked out, Mr Mulder said the elective surgery waiting list could double.

“To give an indication, $2.9 million, divided by roughly $4000 each surgery, would be 725 patients who could miss out on elective surgery,” he said.

“That would double our waiting list in six months.

“That’s the type of impact it could have on elective surgery.

“It’s a disastrous outcome.”

Are you on the elective surgery waiting list? Tell us your story by ringing 5434 4470 or emailing blair.thomson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Mr Mulder said the mood at the hospital was one concern.

“I’ve spoken to lots of people,” he said.

“The feedback I’ve had from staff is predictable; people are worried about the impacts on them personally, but just as important they’re worried about the impact on their patients.” 

He said there was disbelief that funding cuts could be applied at such short notice. 

Gibbons fires back

Federal MP for Bendigo Steve Gibbons has again hit back at claims the Commonwealth is to blame for funding cuts that will affect Bendigo Health.

He again laid the blame on the Baillieu government's doorstep for the cuts saying they had reduced health funding contributions over two state budgets.

“The Baillieu state government has reduced its health funding contributions to Victorian hospitals by $616 million over the previous two state budgets," he said.

“The Baillieu state government has form in attempting to pass the buck onto the Commonwealth for its lack of funding of individual programs and projects. The Old Calder Highway interchange project being just one example.”

Mr Gibbons said the agreement referred to by Bendigo Health CEO John Mulder was dependent on a number of different factors.

“The Federal Labor Government is adjusting a component of its funding contributions as per a well established funding agreement with the State Government," he said. 

"Funding is based on a combination of factors which are indexed to ensure transparency and equity and include population changes, growth rates in the cost of health services and a technology factor of 1.2 per cent.

“The agreement allows the Commonwealth to adjust a component of its funding if any cost increases in providing health services are not as high as anticipated and population figures are higher or lower than anticipated.

“Contrary to state health minister David Davis’ comments the state government has always been aware that these factors would impact on the health budget each year and have signed up to this agreement.

“When these adjustments were made this year, population growth was not as high as predicted and the cost of providing health services has not increased as much as predicted.

“If Mr Mulder and every other hospital CEO in Victoria were unaware of the agreed formula, then they should have been as this agreement on the current Health and Hospital funding formula started in 2010 and will continue until 2016."

Mr Gibbons said media reports of Bendigo Health having its budget slashed by the federal government was an exaggeration and he would continue to talk with the federal health minister about the budget adjustment.

“I fully understand Bendigo Health’s frustrations as they attempt to manage their finances responsibly and the retrospectivity of these changes is of considerable concern to me.”

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