WIMMERA Health Care Group's chief executive is calling on the state government to inject more money into healthcare in the region.
The government announced on Sunday that the organisation would receive $67.37 million in the 2019-20 financial year - up $3.05 million compared to the previous 12-month period.
But Catherine Morley said this was not enough, and didn't take into account the costs of providing medical care in a regional area.
She said the service had made a commitment to bolster its maternity services, residential aged care and cyber security.
"We will be putting in a deficit budget again this year," she said.
"We haven't balanced books for 10 years, so the conversation we would like to have with whoever would like to listen to us is being a rural sub-regional health service, three-and-a-half hours from Melbourne, entails a number of rurality costs that activity-based funding doesn't cover.
"With regards to cyber security, there is an action plan we had to do to ensure we were compliant and safe, and for that work to be done properly, we need to hire somebody.
"Our maternity service is the only one in the region and oversees 350 to 400 births a year. For us to do that to the level our community expects and deserves, we need to have obstetricians and an anesthetist on call. That costs $1 million more that the activity-based funding provides."
Ms Morley said the organisation was lobbying the state government for enough funding to remove its deficit of $6.7 million.
"For us to provide the level of service we want, and to implement a whole range of improvements, we need an extra $10 million recurrently every year," she said.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told the Mail-Times the funding Wimmera Health Care Group would receive included $420,000 to deliver more than 3000 additional specialist clinic appointments focusing on diabetes, psychology, oncology and physiotherapy.
"Funding allocated to health services... caters for increases in population growth, demand in service utilisation and future planning for the types of services the population requires," she said.
"Rural health services like Horsham and Stawell do receive a higher rate for acute services than metropolitan and regional hospitals."
Nhill Hospital theatre back up and running
West Wimmera Health Service chief executive Ritchie Dodds said the service would receive $22.33 million in state government funding this financial year.
He said some of the money would go towards the upkeep of Nhill hospital's operating theatre, which reopened in July after 14 months out of action.
"We closed it temporarily when we became aware with several issues in terms of quality and safety of care provided, particularly around infection control," he said.
"We got a $1.2 million grant from the state government to refurbish it.
"Since it reopened, we've had general surgery there and people getting their cataracts fixed, and diagnostic endoscopes and gastroscopes for people to be checked up if they need it."
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