ALBURY Wodonga Health will not close operating theatres or beds at Easter after the federal government this week reinstated $1.1 million of its funding.
The two-week shutdown was designed to deal with the fallout from the four-month spat between the federal and Victorian governments.
But there will be no reprieve for the 50 jobs to be lost and there are fears the health service doesn’t have the beds, equipment or staff to use all of its reinstated funding before the end of the financial year.
Wangaratta Hospital also had some funding restored but was still awaiting details yesterday.
Yesterday federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek’s office confirmed Albury-Wodonga Health would receive $1.105 million and North East Health Wangaratta $1.12 million as part of the new deal.
But Albury-Wodonga Health chief executive Stuart Spring said the service was relying on the media for the details.
As a result of the pre-existing cuts to funding, the health service had cut the number of surgical and general beds, as well as its operating schedule.
“We don’t have all the details but we will be looking to reverse as many of the cuts as possible in the time available,” he said
“But we probably can’t spend that money in the time we have left in this financial year.
“We now won’t be closing beds or the operating theatre for the two weeks over Easter as planned.
“But the redundancy program is still in play — that is part of an original long-term strategy and while we have a target of 50 jobs it remains to be seen if we meet that target.”
North East Health chief executive Margaret Bennett said it, too, was awaiting details of the restored funding.
Wangaratta Hospital had $1.1 million cut from its budget forcing bed closures and restricting elective surgery.
She said there were now more than 70 people who had been waiting 12 months for surgery.
“Certainly the past few months have been very difficult so it is wonderful news,” she said.
“But at the same time we are still awaiting the details, the mechanism by which the funding will be restored.
“We are also focused on what will happen with next year’s budget.”
The Victorian government yesterday claimed the restored funding applied only until the end of the financial year and left in place a further $368 million in cuts over three years from July 1.