Premier slammed for hospital cuts

MEMBER for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan and member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards are slamming Premier Denis Napthine for "staying silent" after Bendigo Hospital has been hit with a "double whammy" of federal and state government budget cuts.

Ms Allan said new figures reveal Bendigo Health will cop another $7 million in cuts as a result of Tony Abbott’s government slashing $277 million from Victoria’s hospital.

“Bendigo Hospital is already struggling under the weight of Denis Napthine’s Budget cuts. Bendigo patients can’t afford the Denis Napthine-Tony Abbott double act of cutting hospital funds,” she said.

“Denis Napthine’s $826 million cuts were bad enough for Bendigo patients.”

Ms Allan said Bendigo Health’s latest Annual Report showed the impact the cuts were having with only 44 per cent of Category 2 elective surgery patients treated within 90 days, 898 people anguishing on the hospital’s elective surgery waiting list, 10 patients forced to wait more than 24 hours in the emergency department and a reduction in the operating capacity of the Intensive Care Unit.

Ms Edwards said Dr Napthine had plunged Victorian hospitals into crisis.

“Our local paramedics are under continued pressure, with ongoing cases of ramping at Bendigo Hospital’s Emergency Department and whole communities left without ambulance coverage putting more pressure on hospital and ambulance staff as they care for critically ill patients,"  she said.

“The money Mr Abbott will rip out of the system could clear the elective surgery waiting list or employ 3,000 nurses or open 500 new hospital beds.”

The pair Ms Allan criticised Dr Napthine for sitting by silently.

“You can’t trust the Liberals with our health system. Victoria deserves better than the Napthine-Abbott axe double act,” Ms Allan said.

However a spokesman for health minister David Davis said the “hypocrisy” of Ms Allan was “astonishing”

“When Julia Gillard cut the $107 million from Victorian hospitals, including $2.9 million from Bendigo,

Jacinta Allan said nothing,” he said.

“Jacinta Allan's track record shows she is clearly more interested in looking after her Labor mates than she is in representing the interests of Bendigo.

“The Victorian Coalition Government has increased the Bendigo Hospital budget by $40 million.

“It is the Coalition Government that is delivering the new $630 million Bendigo Hospital, not Jacinta Allan's second-rate option.”

Premier Denis Napthine said the government had provided record level funding for Victoria’s hospitals.

“We know in Victoria that there is always a demand for increased funding in health. We’re very proud of the fact that our government is providing $14.3 billion for health funding, a record-level of funding for Victorian hospitals, plus a record-level of $4.7 billion for capital funds for our hospitals.  

“We’re investing in new hospitals, hospital infrastructure, and of  course in recurrent funding. But we need a shared partnership from the federal government to continue supporting the growth of service to meet the demands of our growing Victorian community.

“We need the federal  government to outline their commitment to ongoing health funding, and I would urge Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton to advise us of the funding that they’re going to provide in that partnership.”

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