Gibbons launches attack on Bendigo Health

FEDERAL member for Bendigo Steve Gibbons has launched another attack on Bendigo Health chairman Dr Michael Langdon and chief executive officer John Mulder after the pair announced plans to manage budget cuts this morning.

Bendigo Health conducted interviews with media this morning detailing the budget cuts under a strict embargo of midnight tonight.

But Mr Gibbons issued a media statement detailing the cuts at 4.21pm today.

Mr Gibbons said the Bendigo Health cuts would include:

- Closing 24 beds, up of eight beds from each of the surgical, medical and orthopaedic wards;

- Reducing elective surgery by 600 cases between Easter and June 30; and

- A plan to cut spending in mental health by 'around $100,000' by not recruiting vacancies and reducing regional after hours services.

Mr Gibbons said the decreases were caused by the loss of up to $15.2 million in cuts from the Baillieu state government’s health budget and the $2.9 million in reduced federal funding under the Health Reform Agreement indexed funding arrangements.

“Dr Langdon has again deliberately refused to mention the massive cut the Baillieu state government has inflicted on Bendigo Health that, based on revised information from the Commonwealth Department of Health, is now up to $15.2 million," he said.

“Bendigo Health’s media release indicates that the cost saving measures will reduce elective surgery by 600 cases between Easter and June 30.

“Dr Langdon and Mr Mulder would have us believe that a $2.9 million reduction in funding will result in a drop of 600 elective surgeries, while a cut of $15.2 million, which has already resulted in a 283 case reduction according to available data, will have no further effect.

“I understand that a proposal to amalgamate the orthopaedic, surgical and medical wards had been under consideration for some time, again well before the federal government’s indexation arrangements were implemented.

“The cost savings announced today by closing of 24 beds, made up of eight beds from each of the surgical, medical and orthopaedic wards will have precisely the same effect as amalgamating the wards. What a coincidence!

“The proposal to cut spending in mental health by around $100,000 by not recruiting to vacancies and reducing regional after hour’s services is a bitter blow for those who need them. I suspect these cuts are only achieved at Bendigo Health because the federal government has increased funding for mental health, normally a state government responsibility, by $2.2 billion across Australia.

“Dr Langdon and Mr Mulder have deliberately deceived this community by again failing to even mention the savage health cuts that Ted Baillieu has inflicted on Bendigo Health that are clearly evident in their own budget papers.

Bendigo Health declined to lift the embargo on information it provided about the cuts when contacted by the Bendigo Advertiser after Mr Gibbons released his media statement.

Bendigo Health also declined to comment on Mr Gibbons' media statement.

Read and listen to Bendigo Health's side of the budget cuts in tomorrow's Bendigo Advertiser.

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