General News — 08 May 2014
Mental health, ambulances and second paediatric hospital the winners in Victorian Budget

Waiting lists are unlikely to shrink with too few funds being poured into hospitals, nurses and doctors peak groups warn.

The Budget allocated $190 million for elective surgery over four years, which equates to about 10,000 operations.

Hospitals will have to compete with private hospitals to get the funding under the competitive funding pool to “drive efficiencies.”

Australian Medical Association president Dr Stephen Parnis said it failed to adequately consider the increasing growth in demand.

Almost 50,000 people are on the elective surgery waiting list.bigstock_Thumb_Up_1037090

Australian Nursing Federation Victorian secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the funding was too little too late and would not clear the backlog of patients awaiting semi-urgent and non-urgent surgery.

The Budget documents show these patients are already missing out on timely treatment.

Overall spending on health will increase 4.2 per cent next financial year.

Health Minister David Davis said the $1.4 billion boost would help hospitals deliver more emergency care and elective surgery.

But Mr Parnis said the increase this year was only $600 million, but last year’s increase was $675 million.

Ambulance Victoria got an additional $35 million, but Budget papers show it faces skyrocketing demand and it is failing to meet response times.

Opposition health spokesman Gavin Jennings said the $6.6 million to cater for increased demand for ambulances would not make a dent in it.

Budget papers reveal Victorians are waiting too long for ambulances.

They show 73.4 per cent of ambulances arrived at the scene of life threatening emergencies within 15 minutes statewide, but the target is 85 per cent.

Hospitals are spending less time on bypass and the hospital early warning system, but only 68 per cent of patients had a hospital stay of less than four hours. The target is 75 per cent.

It was also revealed that only 68 per cent of mental patients were expected to be transferred to a bed within 8 hours, but the target is 80 per cent. It received a $171 funding boost.

The big winners in health were Latrobe Regional Hospital, which got $73 million, $550 million for new helicopter ambulances, $28 million for Barwon Health North and $14 million for Boort Hospital.

To meet growing patient demand $744 million of state and federal government funding will flow through to fund everything from more emergency department presentations to chemotherapy.

Alfred Health will trial a new funding model for heart, lung and heart transplants to help cater for peaks in demand.

The state’s second paediatric hospital will receive $47 million in the financial year to begin construction, but $184 million is yet to flow through to Monash Children’s Hospital, which is due for completion in 2016/17.

The vital upgrade of the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital will get $23 million.

There was also $204 million for disability support services.

This article first appeared on The Herald Sun on 6 May, 2014.

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