Member for Mallee Andrew Broad investigates health funding concerns

FEDERAL Member for Mallee Andrew Broad will investigate funding concerns raised by Wimmera health services.

West Wimmera Health Service and Wimmera Health Care Group have gone public about funding crises facing the region’s hospitals.

Leaders from both health services said cuts to funding promised in the 2012-13 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook put significant strain on their businesses.

West Wimmera Health Service chief executive John Smith said the service was set to lose a total of $579,000 in federal funding by June 30, 2016 because of the cuts.

“Regrettably, it is almost certain that, should these cuts not be reversed, acute hospital beds will again need to be closed and various community health programs curtailed so we can continue to operate in a financially responsible manner,” he said.

The cuts will have a $2,020,000 impact on Wimmera Health Care Group over the same period.

Chief executive Chris Scott said changes to health fund payment further compounded the issue.

The health service estimates it will be almost $700,000 out of pocket by the end of the financial year because some of the nation’s biggest health funds have decided to stop reimbursing public hospitals for the full cost of private care.

“This reduction, compounded by the Commonwealth funding reductions and high cost of patient transport, will push the hospital to make changes,” Mr Scott said.

Other financial stresses included the carbon tax.

Mr Broad met Mr Smith on Wednesday.

West Wimmera Health Service wrote to him on the issue earlier this month.

“I have forwarded the letter on to the Health Minister Peter Dutton to follow up,” Mr Broad said.

Meanwhile, he said he would seek further information from Mr Smith about his concerns.

“I will be looking for clarification of West Wimmera Health Service’s claims and ensuring I can get the best outcome for people in my electorate,” he said.

“The question is, how best to deliver health services on the ground, and in the most efficient way?”

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