Blow to Bendigo Health budget

JOBS will be lost at Bendigo Health, beds will close and surgery waiting lists will grow rapidly after “totally unacceptable” federal funding cuts, according to Bendigo Health chief executive John Mulder. 

The hospital’s current financial year budget has lost $2.9 million and will have to find $500,000 in savings each month. 

Mr Mulder said it was unacceptable and disappointing to be surprised by the changes, especially in the lead-up to Christmas with 3500 staff left unsure of their employment. 

He said the cuts were delivered with only “a few days’ notice”. 

He said he wasn’t sure how many staff would lose their jobs but that the impact would be “significant” across all areas of the hospital. 

“When 70 per cent of your costs are made up of salaries and wages, and someone has removed 2 per cent of your budget, it’s clear this must impact significantly on staff numbers,” he said. 

“Never have cuts of such magnitude been applied with such little notice. We are only given a few days’ notice and expected to deliver almost $3 million in savings over the next six months.” Victorian Health Minister David Davis recently said the federal government would slash $106.7 million from Victorian hospital budgets this financial year.

But Bendigo federal MP Steve Gibbons said the state government had made its own health cuts and that federal funding had actually increased. 

“The Gillard government has increased funding for Victoria’s growing health needs and David Davis’ claims are simply an effort to deflect attention from his own savage cuts,” he said.

Mr Mulder said he would speak to both state and federal governments to try to “claw funding back”. 

He said he heard two weeks ago there was debate between the federal and state governments over health funding contributions.

“But we, like all others, have assumed common sense would prevail and nobody thought a cut would be applied with such magnitude,” he said. “We haven’t worked out the detail. 

“We will be working on a program over the next couple of weeks. 

“But cuts to bed numbers will be significant, elective surgery cancellations will be significant and staff reductions will be significant.

“It’s a fairly disheartening message to be delivered this close to Christmas, and to a team that could not possibly do or give more for their community.

“We can’t recall any government moving the goal posts half way through the year previously.

“This is extremely unfair for our nurses, doctors, other staff and for our patients.” 

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