More board members to be paid in bid to boost quality and help avoid preventable deaths

Those sitting on many regional Victorian hospital boards are about to be paid, in reforms to tackle avoidable deaths in health care.

Until now, being a director of a smaller public hospital board – which are predominantly in regional Victoria – have been volunteer positions. 

The changes are a response to the 2016 Targeting Zero review into how the Victorian health system is governed.

The review was triggered by 11 potentially avoidable newborn and stillborn deaths at Bacchus Marsh’s Djerriwarrh Health Services dating back to 2001.

The review found that while hospitals delivered some of the best care in the world, the Department of Health and Human Services had failed to provide adequate safety and oversight of services.

Targeting Zero highlighted the need to ensure all boards were highly skilled, independent and effective, with the government beginning a series of reforms to boost timely care and make sure regional and rural hospitals meet key performance targets and expectations.

Under the most recent changes, which are set to begin on July 1, remuneration for public hospital board directors will be based on sessional fees for board and sub-committee meetings, and will typically be around $3,00 annually.

Board directors at Melbourne’s major hospitals will also be recognised under reforms. Directors at Alfred Health, Melbourne Health and Monash Health will now be paid $45,123 annually. Chairs will receive $88,715.

The changes are consistent with recommendations from a review conducted by the Victorian Public Service Commissioner to bring health service boards in line with other agencies of similar size and responsibility.