Hamilton hospital delays elective surgery

HAMILTON Base Hospital has announced plans to delay elective surgery in a bid to soften the blow of last year’s federal health cuts. 

Western District Health Service (WDHS) yesterday revealed it had joined other services in the south-west in finding savings.

Doctors, nurses and allied health staff will have to work under increased pressure with a delay on hiring for non-critical positions, while six beds due to reopen in May will also be delayed. 

About $437,000 was pulled from the health services federal funding last year. 

WDHS chief executive Jim Fletcher said there would also be a “phase down” of elective surgery for three weeks in April. 

“It’s going to be a tough year ahead,” Mr Fletcher said.

“There doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.” 

The hospital chief warned the elective surgery delays would be across the board for operations and procedures. 

“We’re likely to see longer waiting times for allied health patients,” he said. “We will be delaying  the reopening of six beds, which had been closed for the redevelopment of the Hamilton Base Hospital.  They were due to come back online in May but we’ve had to delay that until June.” 

Health promotion programs aimed at preventing long-term illnesses will also be reduced. 

Administrative roles and some allied health positions will take longer to be replaced if they are vacated. 

Last month, The Standard reported the Warrnambool Base Hospital was planning bed closures to find savings of nearly $1.5 million.

Portland District Health has also announced plans to cease public hip and knee joint replacements from March this year after it lost out on $254,000. 

Mr Fletcher accused the government of reneging on  the 2011 National Health Reform Agreement

“We were promised by the federal government more funds would flow — that doesn’t appear to have taken place,” he said. 

s.mccomish@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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