State health system being shortchanged

Victoria's hospitals and health services will be feeling the pain again this week as the next dose of bad medicine with the federal government's health funding cuts hits their bank accounts.

On Monday, Canberra's monthly contribution lands in the account of Victoria s health funding pool, and for the second month in a row we have been short-changed by $15.3 million.

Under the National Health Agreement hardly a partnership! It's Victoria's responsibility to then distribute the money to our hospitals.

There's less to go around.

That's $15.3 million less that our hospitals will receive in January, and every other month until the end of June.

That's $107 million less in total over the current financial year, as part of a $475 million cash grab over four years.

In the case of Ballarat Health Services, that's $2.82 million taken out of the budget over the seven months to the end of June.

The budget was already finalised and signed off before Canberra announced its cut, so Ballarat has no alternative but to cut services.

Canberra tried to justify its funding rip-off by claiming that we need fewer services because we've had a population exodus that we've got 11,000 fewer people living in Victoria than we had a year earlier.

However, its very own Commonwealth Statistician caught it out and produced figures to confirm that Victoria's population grew by 75,400 people in 2011.

Anyone who has seen the new suburbs grow virtually overnight in our outer metropolitan growth areas will confirm the absurdity of the claim that our population has dropped.

Our population hasn't dropped but our hospital services are dropping as a result of the savage and heartless cuts.

When Canberra announced its funding 

cuts and its refusal to back down, I asked Hospital Board Chairs to work with their CEOs to develop plans to deal with the reduction.

Wards and beds are already closing as a result of the federal funding cuts.

Hospitals are working on plans on which staff they have to let go.

Surgery lists are already being cut back, and the impact will show up in future months as more and more patients wait for their elective surgery for longer and longer periods.

I acknowledge that times are tough economically, but the federal government should not be doing a fiddle with its books at the expense of Victorian patients.

The Baillieu government has increased funding to Victorian health services by $1.3 billion since we came to office in 2010, and in the current year put a record $13.7 billion into health.

Canberra needs to be doing the same and pulling its weight.

David Davis

State Health Minister

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