Mary Wooldridge MP

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Hospitals struggling under Daniel Andrews

Friday, September 15, 2017

The action I seek is for the Minister for Health to provide additional funding to our health services, which have had their funding cut by the Andrews Labor government in relation to the complexity coding and also the massive impacts that electricity costs are having on their budgets as a result of Daniel Andrews's failed energy policies.

The hospitals are no doubt under massive pressure. My understanding is that many of them are starting the year with deficit budgets, trying to work out how to fill those massive gaps. The very concerning implication of this is that services will have to be cut and staff will have to be cut in order for our health services' CEOs and boards to be able to have a budget that is in the black this year, rather than in the red.

The reason is twofold. It is because electricity costs, in terms of the prices, have tripled under the new Health Purchasing Victoria contracts, which has led to a massive increase in many budgets. For some big health services, there has been an increase up to as much as $6 million in their bills for energy as a result of this massive increase we are seeing across the board in terms of our energy prices. Families are feeling it, communities are feeling it, businesses are feeling it and now our health services are also feeling it. This needs to be made good. The health services need to be funded for these massive increases, and I am certainly seeking that action from the minister.

Secondly, it is as a result of a change in the policy and funding guidelines to the way that complexity is funded. Effectively, rather than topping up our particularly tertiary and quaternary health services, which have a lot of complex patients — instead of topping them up for the complexity of the patient — any second diagnosis or comorbidity that would have got funding last year is not going to be funded additionally this year. Some of our health services think this might be in the order of a $20 million cost impact — a cut from their budget that they would have got last year that they are not getting this year.

This is having a very dramatic effect on the ability of health services to plan for and meet their budgets this year. This cut is very harsh. Many of them have teams searching through their budgets to work out what they can cut, what can be reduced or what programs can be discontinued in order to meet their budgets. So there is no doubt that there is a very significant impact, and the Herald Sun described it as 'Hospitals face budget crisis'. It is a massive issue, and I call on the Minister for Health to make good in the negotiations that are occurring on additional funding so that our health services can get on with the job of treating patients, which they do so well in this state.

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