Bendigo Health chief executive John Mulder has returned fire on Member for Bendigo Steve Gibbons.
Mr Mulder and Bendigo Health chairman Michael Langdon briefed media on cost cuts to combat the loss of $2.9 million in federal Government funds on Tuesday morning under a strict midnight embargo.
But Mr Gibbons announced details of the cuts in a media statement at 4.21pm on Tuesday, accusing the Bendigo Health chiefs of “deceiving the community”.
Bendigo Health declined to comment publicly on Mr Gibbons’ statement on Tuesday.
But Mr Mulder sent an email to Bendigo Health staff yesterday under the heading “Funding cuts and bed closures, clarification” which labelled one of Mr Gibbons’ claims as “ridiculous”.
The email read:
“Dear staff, all of you may have seen, read or been informed of the impact that federal funding cuts will have on our health service via internal communication or through the media. You can also read more about my views on the subject on my new blog www.bendigohealthceo.org.au.
“I want to assure you that the full extent of the cuts was revealed yesterday and that these measures are short term.
“I was concerned to read in some reports a claim made by Bendigo federal MP Steve Gibbons that we had previously decided to amalgamate our surgical, medical and orthopaedic wards and are using these cuts as a smokescreen.
“He was quoted as saying: “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!” (end quote).
“I shouldn’t have to deny this comment as those of us working in the hospital system know how ridiculous such a move would be, even if it were possible given our ward sizes and building infrastructure.
“I also can’t see how closing eight beds in each of the three wards “would have precisely the same effect as amalgamating the wards.
“’Over recent years we have been working in completely the opposite direction trying to reduce the number of medical patients in surgical wards, improving patient care in the process and we are not about to undo that work.
“For the record: The proposal has never been discussed in any forum where I have been present, such a proposal would never have my support, it is unfounded and completely untrue.’’