Lifeline for struggling healthcare services in Ballan

EMERGENCY funding for a struggling community-owned healthcare in Ballan will keep services afloat in a short-term boost.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy delivered a much-needed $500,000 assistance package to the troubled service on Thursday. 

Ballan District Health and Care has started an organisational review, likely to take two months, after flagging last week the organisation would be forced to scale back unless it received financial help from the state or federal governments.

BDHC board member and Moorabool Shire mayor Paul Tatchell welcomed the grant, which is to be repaid once the organisation steadies. Cr Tatchell said would help offer reasonable breathing space for the healthcare service to make new plans for long-term survival.

“It's great Jill Hennessy has sent us a lifeline. It's great she actually recognises the need to get the conversation rolling to make this better for such a high-growth region,” Cr Tatchell said.

“It’s disappointing the feds haven’t come to the table when this is a problem they have known about for years.”

Structural and funding issues have been plaguing the healthcare service, which had a $480,000 loss in the last financial year. This amount is projected to increase to $800,000 should the organisation remain status quo.

BDHC as a community-owned organisation is classed as private not-for-profit care. It employs 171 staff to provide 52 aged care beds and 10 hospital beds, alongside a a GP clinic, allied healthcare, x-ray, dental, an indoor pool, childcare, aged care and in-home support services.

Cr Tatchell said it was unsustainable to maintain services for a growing region on such a limited budget. He said the organisation’s aged care service, for example, had 55 residents and as a community they wanted to ensure each remained in good care in Ballan.

BDHC has appointed an acting chief executive officer in John Davies, after the resignation of previous chief Wayne Weaire on July 30. Cr Tatchell said this should help allow time to find the right chief to lead an organisational restructure.

Minister Hennessy said BDHC sits at the heart of the Ballan community and it was important to protect it.

“We’ll never turn our backs on the hard-working rural and community health services that regional and rural Victorians depend on,” Minister Hennessy said.