Elective surgeries to suffer says Bendigo Health CEO

LOCAL elective surgery waiting lists could almost double as a result of federal government funding cuts, according to Bendigo Health chief executive John Mulder. 

Mr Mulder said the $2.9 million removed from this financial year’s budget could push 725 surgeries back until next financial year. 

A total of 976 people are on local waiting lists, which Mr Mulder said would probably expand past 1600.

He will work through details of bed closures, staff job losses and how it will affect patients in coming weeks, and said the impact would be “disastrous”. 

“To give an indication, $2.9 million, divided by roughly $4000 each surgery, would be 725 patients who could miss out on elective surgery,” Mr Mulder said. “That would double our waiting list in six months.

“It’s a disastrous outcome.”

Most people on the list are in category two, which the hospital aims to treat within 90 days, but the wait is likely to stretch beyond that time frame. 

Bendigo Health staff were worried about their jobs and the impact the changes would have on patients, Mr Mulder said.

“The mood is one of apprehension, significant concern and disbelief,” he said.

“This is the first time we’ve experienced a change of this nature midway through a funding cycle.” 

He said while politicians quarrelled over who was to blame, the federal government was at fault. 

“The state figures have stayed the same, and with a matter of a few days’ notice, the federal figures to Victoria have reduced by $106 million,” he said.  “Bendigo Health’s share of that is $2.9 million, which has to be applied over the next six months.”

Asked if he was concerned about any backlash to his comments, Mr Mulder said he had other worries. 

“I’m more concerned about the implications for our patients and staff,” he said.

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