Parties brawl on health funds

(Picture: Rebecca Hosking)

Geelong acute health services face a $22 million government funding cut this financial year, according to the state’s opposition.

Shadow health minister Georgie Crozier yesterday accused State Government of cutting funding after Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) published its 2019/2020 policy and funding guidelines.

“Barwon Health is one of the largest and most comprehensive regional health services in Australia yet Daniel Andrews has cruelly decided to cut their health funding,” she said.

Barwon Health would this financial year experience a 6.3 per cent reduction in acute admitted funding, down from $355 million to $333 million, Ms Crozier said.

Acute care is where a patient receives active but short-term treatment for a severe injury or illness, an urgent medical condition or during recovery from surgery.

DHHS published the “long-overdue” policy and funding guidelines following “pressure” from the coalition in parliament last week, Ms Crozier said.

“Victorians should be deeply concerned with Daniel Andrews’ funding attacks on our health system.”

Member for Western Victoria Bev McArthur described the funding cuts as “outrageous”.

“This latest health funding cut to acute care clearly proves, yet again, that Daniel Andrews cares little for those outside the tram tracks of Melbourne and is prepared to put local Geelong region patients at risk.”

But a spokesperson for Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told the Indy as “background” there had been absolutely no reduction in funding for acute admitted activity.

New Commonwealth rules separating certain types of acute funding made the coalition’s comparison to last year inaccurate, they said.

“Barwon Health is receiving record funding for its nurses and doctors to provide the very best care, just as it has every year since the Andrews Labor Government came to power.”

“The Liberals cut hospitals and they backtracked on their promise to build a new public hospital, and instead did a deal with a private provider which forced Geelong Private Hospital to close. We’ve fixed their mess.”

According to the policy guidelines Barwon Health will receive $578 million in total funding for 2019/2020, compared to $552 million last financial year.

The amount was $165 million more than when the Liberals were last in power, the government spokesperson said.

The Andrews Labor Government has committed $110 million for a new Geelong women’s and children’s hospital.

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