Minister steps up attack over health cuts

THE Victorian government has continued its attack on the Commonwealth over health cuts as federal cashflows into Spring Street coffers yesterday drop by another $15m. 

The second monthly cut of $15m from Canberra has drawn the ire of state Health Minister David Davis, who again slammed the rationale for the cuts, which have been done based on population figures. 

Figures from the Commonwealth reveal there were 11,000 fewer people living in Victoria than the year before — a figure disputed by Victorian leaders. 

“Its very own Commonwealth statistician caught it out and produced figures to confirm that Victoria’s population grew by 75,400 people in 2011,” Mr Davis said. Victorian hospitals are facing a $107 million shortfall this financial year. 

“In the case of South West Healthcare, that’s $1.41 million taken out of the budget over the seven months to the end of June,” Mr Davis said. 

“The budget was already finalised and signed off before Canberra announced its cut, so Warrnambool has no alternative but to cut services.” 

South West Healthcare is yet to reveal how many beds it plans to close in the coming months. 

Following the cuts, it also announced plans to delay up to 400 elective surgery procedures. 

“Surgery lists are already being cut back and the impact will show up in future months as more and more patients wait for their elective surgery for longer and longer periods,” he said. 

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek returned fire last year saying the state government had been responsible for making $600 million in health cuts over the past two state budgets. 

smccomish@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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