Albury-Wodonga's $3m rehabilitation service at stake

Albury-Wodonga Health physiotherapist Abby Heafield with Lavington patient Doreen Pearce at the rehabilitation unit in February 2012, when it was first announced that the unit would get $3m in funding. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

Albury-Wodonga Health physiotherapist Abby Heafield with Lavington patient Doreen Pearce at the rehabilitation unit in February 2012, when it was first announced that the unit would get $3m in funding. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

ALBURY Wodonga Health has vowed to protect vital multi-million-dollar rehabilitation services from severe federal budget health cuts.

About $80 billion will cut from health and education nationally over a decade, with the states told they will have to fill in the gaps.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine and NSW’s Mike Baird have rejected federal claims the cuts would not bite for years.

They said their states would be $200 million worse off in their new budgets from July 1.

Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Stuart Spring said the service had been told the states feared money tied up with the national partnership agreement was in doubt.

“NSW has said there will be no cuts and Victoria’s still looking at the issue,” Dr Spring said.

“From our point of view, there’s about $3 million at stake because we opened 10 rehabilitation beds with funding from NSW.

“And we expanded our rehabilitation centre activities with Victorian money.

“They just can’t be turned off. The patients are there, the service is needed and there will be a lot of discussion.”

Dr Spring said there was “a lot of water to go under the bridge” before the impact on Albury Wodonga Health became clearer.

“But we’re not planning any reductions,” he said.

“Those rehabilitation services will have to be maintained.”

Dr Spring said a situation on Friday when elective surgery on four patients was cancelled was “a one-off”.

The patients arrived at Wod- onga hospital only to be told their surgery would have to be rescheduled.

Dr Spring said two of the cases had involved orthopaedic surgery, one general surgery and the fourth was a pain-management case.

“Quite frankly that’s not a lot of patients,” he said.

“But it was particularly tight on Friday with a lot of people who couldn’t be discharged on that day.”

Dr Spring said the service had “generally speaking” been doing a good job of getting people into elective surgery.

“Things always get tighter coming into winter,” he said.

“We’ve not got a lot of elective beds. We run pretty much close to the line all of the time and, occasionally, we just don’t make it.”

Dr Spring said people in this situation were always “of the highest priority next time, all things being equal”.

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