I write in response to Blair Thomson’s article, Bendigo Advertiser, February 21, in which he reports that the federal government had made a “shock decision to reverse more than $100 million in hospital budget cuts”.
This headline is misleading.
The Gillard Labor government’s decision to bypass the Victorian Liberal government and directly fund local hospital networks, including the new Bendigo Hospital, was in direct response to Ted Baillieu’s failure to adequately manage his state’s health system.
For two years, Premier Baillieu’s blatant disregard for the welfare of Victoria’s hospital network has seen beds close, elective surgery waiting lists blow out and standards of care sharply decline.
Despite significant increases in Commonwealth health funding and additional GST revenues paid to Victoria, health results in Victoria have gone backwards under Baillieu.
Under the Baillieu Liberal National state government,
$616 million of funding for essential hospital services has been ripped out of two successive state budgets.
The net effect of these cuts has seen delays to elective and emergency care in Victoria, including for Bendigo patients.
Had the federal Labor government not intervened, Bendigo Health would have lost $2.9 million funding, closing one in seven acute hospital beds and adding up to 500 people to surgery waiting lists.
The Commonwealth funding package will allow local hospital administrators to get on with what they do best, providing health care services to those who need it.
Premier Baillieu and his health minister, David Davis have been caught out playing politics with Victorian patients and should now come clean about their health cuts and blatant mismanagement of the Victorian healthcare system. Victorians deserve better.