Funds backflip good news for hospitals

ALBURY Wodonga Health could have a surprise injection of funds after the federal government announced it would reinstate $107 million in funding for Victorian hospitals.

But the funding will bypass the state government and will be paid straight to hospital administrators.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced the back-down last night with a stinging rebuke for the state government.

“This funding injection will go directly to frontline hospital administrators so they can immediately restore services shut down by the Baillieu government in recent months,” Ms Plibersek said.

Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Dr Stuart Spring said it was “fantastic news” for the Border’s patients.

“It is too early to say exactly what we are going to be able to do because all we’ve got is a press release but if what we read is true, then a significant part of the current reductions are going to be reversed,” Dr Spring said last night.

“Ask me again tomorrow.”

Albury Wodonga Health had called for 50 redundancies as one way of handling a $3.9 million shortfall in government funding for the first six months of the year.

Beds and theatres were being closed meaning elective surgery operations for public patients would be slashed by a third.

With 4000 on the waiting list, the figure was likely to grow to about 300 a month.

Dr Spring said it was a “wait and see” as to how the situation might be improved but if an injection of funds comes through, it’s “very good news”.

“It will have a deep effect on what we have to do over the next four months,” he said.

The Victorian government accused Canberra of using incorrect population figures to slash $475 million from the state’s health budget over four years, including $107 million this financial year.

Victorian Health Minister David Davis welcomed Ms Plibersek’s announcement as a “first step” in restoring the full $475 million in funding.

“I pay tribute to the hospital boards, clinicians, and communities who fought for their hospitals and patients,” he said.