VICTORIAN public hospitals have been propped up by $1.4b in car parking fees and cafeteria food sales, the auditor-general has found.
Cash generated by parking fees, cafes and commercial diagnostic services accounted for more than a tenth of total revenue last financial year.
Victoria's hospitals received $11.6 billion in revenue for 2011-12, seven per cent more than the previous year.
Victorian Auditor-General Des Pearson said hospitals needed to develop clear policies for those cash sources, and hospital boards should provide guidance on acceptable sources of revenue.
"To assist in funding their operations, public hospitals are under increasing pressure to provide self-generated revenue from sources such as commercial diagnostic services, cafeteria services, facility fees paid by private practitioners and car parking fees," he said in a report tabled to parliament today.
Six public hospitals - Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Bendigo Health Care Group, Kyabram and District Health Service, Mercy Public Hospitals Inc, Northern Health and Southern Health - had no days of operating cash flow as at June 30, 2012.
They were among 16 hospitals with fewer than seven days of operating cash flows.
Thirty-four public hospitals were considered to have a high overall risk rating, mostly because they were failing to generate enough cash to adequately fund their operations.
The Department of Health provided a letter of support to 31 public hospitals under financial stress, guaranteeing it would, if required, help them meet current and future obligations up until September 2013.
Three hospitals that required a letter of support in 2010-11 had improved their financial performance and did not need a letter in 2011-12 - Barwon Health, Lorne Community Hospital and Seymour Health.