Albury Wodonga Health response to Mr Stan Stavros and Border Mail
We appreciate the opportunity to respond to Stan Stavros’ claims about Albury Wodonga Health (AWH).
The Health Service is required to report its results in a proscribed format and we have sympathy for Stan Stavros, who, despite his background in providing accounting services to doctors, has obviously struggled to interpret our performance.
1) “Administrative Staffing has increased by 60% in two years”: The increase in the administrative staffing (64 positions between 2010 and 2012) is explainable in that the vast majority of the increase in positions are due to the transfer to AWH, over the last two years, of administrative and other support service staff who until then, had worked in NSW Health entities or remained on the books of NSW Health but worked at AWH. The funding for these staff was already in the AWH budget but the staffing numbers were not reported.
Such staff, who were transferred, work in Finance, Human Resources, Purchasing and Logistics, Information Technology, Ward Clerical Support and Engineering, by way of examples.
Other positions have either been specifically funded from the budgets of projects approved by the Victorian Department of Health, including organisational change projects and the $80M worth of Capital Works projects.
On formation of Albury Wodonga Health it was quickly apparent that the processes and systems of the former separately managed hospitals were very rudimentary and required investment if AWH is to achieve its goals as a comprehensive Regional Health Service. This required appointment of a handful of staff that have been funded from part of the efficiency savings that have been achieved through change management initiatives. Such an example of change was the privatisation of the Pathology Service in 2010—a move that achieved “seven figure savings”. However this pathology saving largely went to the “bottom line”.
A recent study has shown that we stack up well against peer health services with respect to administrative costs.
2) “Payments to the Board and CEO have increased by 26%”
The percentage increase of 26% increase is correct –an all up increased payment of $115,000.
This increase is firstly due to the appointment by the Minister of Health, in 2011-12, of an additional two Board members—bringing the total number Board Members to 8, a 33% increase.
And secondly due to retrospective payments that related to the previous financial year.
And thirdly, the increased salary payment to the CEO that is no greater than the annual increase approved for senior executives by the Victorian Government, i.e. 2.5%.
Once again, the total of all payments was $115,000.
3) “Increase in Medical staff compared to Administrative staff increases”
This comparison by Stan Stavros would have been different were he to have realised the background about the transfer of administrative staff from NSW Health to AWH. The absolute numbers of Medical staffing of all types, senior and junior, has increased by 55% over the last three years.
Visiting Medical Officer payments have gone up by $1.9M in this time. We have invested in clinical services and as a result the number of patients admitted has increased from 30,213 in 2009-10 to 31926 in 2011-12 –an increase of 5.7% or 1713 patients admitted a year.
When analysed with the benefit of further data—there has been no “massive blowout”— to the contrary –whilst there is always more to do, AWH today is leaner and more effective than the two hospitals acting independently.
The need for the future is for the Community to combine to support the development of a Regional Service that can deliver a comprehensive and appropriate range of services.
A Service that is of a level and standard of the likes of Bendigo and Ballarat and Tamworth and Orange.
The 18th largest city in Australia, Albury Wodonga, demands nothing less.
AWH has not apportioned to, any single activity or staff group, the cause for our budget dilemma.
AWH will continue to explore opportunities to do more work at a reduced cost whilst never retreating from reaching our goal as a comprehensive Regional Health Service.
Dr Stuart Spring
Chief Executive Officer
Albury Wodonga Health