Davis calls on Bendigo Health funding

VICTORIA’S Health Minister David Davis is calling on the federal government to pay up and honour its promises to the state’s hospitals.

Mr Davis claims the federal government’s promised payments to Victoria’s hospitals are now overdue and needed to be paid immediately to ensure debt collectors are not called in.

He said Bendigo Health urgently needed the promised money as it was now $1.676 million in the red with its federal funding.

A spokesperson for Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek yesterday responded to Mr Davis’s criticisms by saying draft funding agreements had been sent to all Victorian health services.

Federal Member for Bendigo Steve Gibbons confirmed the draft funding agreements were sent to Bendigo and Castlemaine health services last week. “Once they are signed and returned the funding will flow,” he said.

“This is normal procedure in any health funding arrangements.”

But Mr Davis said the federal government should settle its accounts immediately.

“Hospitals hard-hit by four months of a $107 million federal health funding squeeze are still not able to gear up for more elective surgery or open closed beds,” he said.

“The prime minister announced with great fanfare on February 20 that hospitals would receive their missing money, and that the federal government would pay it direct.

Canberra ripped $15.3 million away from Victoria’s hospitals every month since December 7, so it now owes our hospitals $61.2 million.

“It tried to hedge its bets on the prime minister’s promise by then quietly telling hospitals that it would only pay up when they forwarded their statements of priorities to Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.”

Mr Davis said Ms Plibersek’s demand for more documentation was just a delaying tactic.

“Does Tanya Plibersek want the statements of priorities as a type of invoice before she’ll sign the cheque to our hospitals?” he said.

“If that’s the case, I remind her that three months worth of payments are outside the normal trading terms of 30 days, and so she should cough up immediately as her payments are overdue.”

Mr Davis said the federal funding cuts were costing Bendigo Health $419,000 a month, causing a major squeeze on elective surgery, patient services, beds and staff.

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