THE heads of 19 Victorian health services and hospitals have pleaded with Prime Minister Julia Gillard to defer $107m of budget cuts.
The Health Service Council of Board Chairs members have warned the cutbacks could lead to surgery cancellations, bed closures and a deterioration of emergency services.
The Council wrote to PM yesterday voicing grave concerns they wouldn’t have enough time to plan for budget cuts, which would severely impact on the hospitals ability to provide services to Victorians.
In the letter Chair Council Barbara Yeoh said hospitals had to find $40 million worth of savings from the 2011-12 year in just seven months.
She said the population estimates used to determine funding was a matter for the Federal and State Governments to resolve, but in reality health services faced a funding cut of 5.6 per cent from Friday.
"We are gravely concerned about the detrimental impact this significant seven month funding reduction at such short notice will have on the Victorian community and our staff,
“Given the inadequate time available to consult and plan our response, including the deterioration in emergency performance, cancellation of planned elective surgery and closure of beds or services as we wind back planned expenditure,'' the letter said.
It comes after Federal shadow spokesperson for Health Peter Dutton toured the south west Victoria with Liberal member for Wannon Dan Tehan to assess the damage to regional hospitals from the funding change.
South West Healthcare in Warnambool was set to lose $1.4 million in the funding claw back, North East Health in Wangaratta $1.1m, Bendigo Health Care Group $2.9m and Western District Health in Hamilton $437,000.
“These cuts to services such as elective surgery, specialists and allied health will hit regional communities hard,” Mr Tehan said.
“We already face significant challenges in providing adequate health care to the people of south west Victoria and this is just going to make the situation worse.”
Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said $3.68m had been cut from hospitals in electorate over two years including $2.2m from Traralgon’s Latrobe Regional Hospital.
Last week in Parliament, Mr Chester called for the establishment of a dedicated regional hospitals fund by the Federal Government to finance projects like infrastructure upgrades.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek last night stood by the revised population modelling.
Additional reporting: Herald Sun.