ELECTIVE surgery will be cancelled for 1300 patients at the Western, Sunshine and Williamstown hospitals over the next five months as Victorian hospitals grapple with $107 million in budget cuts.
Western Health said on Thursday that 550 patients at the Western and Sunshine hospitals and 750 patients at Williamstown Hospital would not receive elective surgery as planned this financial year.
Across Victoria, thousands of elective surgeries are to be cancelled as hospital executives cut services to absorb a $107 million hit to federal funding for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 financial years. Victorian Health Minister David Davis says he has no choice but to pass on the cuts.
More than 300 beds were being closed as federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and Mr Davis continued to negotiate on a time to meet on the funding issue on Thursday night.
In other developments, Eastern Health announced it would permanently close 11 rehabilitation beds at the Peter James Centre in East Burwood. Another 15 beds will close until June - five general medical and surgical beds at Box Hill Hospital, five surgical beds at Angliss Hospital and five palliative care beds at Wantirna Health.
Eastern Health will also cut 140 non-urgent hip and knee replacement surgeries and suspend bariatric surgery until June. It will abolish an evening shift for a Box Hill-based Crisis Assessment Treatment Team, meaning patients with urgent mental health needs after 4.30pm will need to contact a psychiatric triage service.
An Eastern Health spokeswoman said she could not say if jobs would be affected. Acting chief executive Janet Compton said there had been no easy decisions in seeking to find $8.4 million in cuts but ''we are doing everything we can to minimise disruption and anxiety for our staff''.
At Western Health, acting chief executive Arlene Wake said it had been ''impossible to prevent a considerable impact on patients'' as the health network absorbed a $6.5 million cut.
She said semi-urgent category-two patients would be affected. Category-two patients should have surgery within 90 days and include people waiting for hip or knee replacements or gynaecological surgery.
Dr Wake said: ''The elective surgery waiting list will be monitored to ensure that all urgent and long-waiting patients are managed appropriately. However, elective surgery is a very large part of our work and we are unable to prevent an impact in this area.''
Western Health expects to close about 70 beds across its Western, Sunshine and Williamstown hospitals until June, and Dr Wake said operating theatres would close at the Western and Sunshine hospitals for up to four weeks between March and May. She said no jobs would be lost.
State Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Premier Ted Baillieu to end the impasse. He said ''patients are waiting longer than they should for the care they need while politicians continue to play a blame game''.