Warrnambool Base Hospital ruled ineligible for extra funds

TWO Warrnambool hospitals have been knocked back after trying to secure cash to reduce elective surgery waiting lists. 

Hospitals around the south-west yesterday missed out on a state government relief package designed to take the sting out of Commonwealth health cuts. 

The state government announced it was sending $44 million to about 30 hospitals across Victoria which face huge blowouts in elective surgery waiting lists. 

Last month South West Healthcare (SWH) revealed that up to 400 patients would have their elective surgery delayed because of a $1.4 million cut by the federal government. 

Approved bed closures are also expected to kick in over the coming months. 

But a bureaucratic roadblock has stopped the latest state funding from reaching SWH, because Warrnambool Base Hospital is not on an official list. 

“When this funding round was announced, a joint application with St John of God was put forward but we were advised that we were ineligible as South West Healthcare was not an official waiting list hospital,” CEO John Krygger said. 

Up to $35 million will be directed to public hospitals in Melbourne, Gippsland, Bendigo, Wangaratta and Geelong. Another $9 million will be shared among private hospitals and some additional public health services in Melbourne, Frankston, Ballarat, Melton and Albury-Wodonga. 

Mr Krygger said SWH would soon be in a better position to snare state funds after the introduction of elective surgery information system (ESIS) — a digital waiting list system. 

St John of God chief executive officer Dr Glen Power said the private hospital had hoped to attain the funds to boost public operations. 

“The application was for additional public patient urgent elective surgical activity in orthopaedics, general surgery and other case mix areas,” Dr Power said. 

“We are disappointed the application was not successful in this instance but St John of God Warrnambool Hospital remains very keen to re-apply and to continue to work in conjunction with Warrnambool Base Hospital.” 

State health minister David Davis spruiked the initiative yesterday, claiming it would counter the withdrawal of $107 million by the federal government this financial year. 

“This latest round of federal funding cuts is estimated to mean a further 21,400 fewer elective surgery operations in Victoria,” Mr Davis said.

“That’s almost 29,000 Victorians that will have to wait extended times for their elective surgery as a result of federal health funding cuts.” 

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