It cost South West Healthcare (SWH) almost $200 million to run its health services, over $13 million more than the year before, new figures reveal.
The organisation's annual report shows SWH's operating revenue was $198.9 over the 2018-2019 financial year and expenses soared to $209.5 million, up $13.3 million on the previous year.
CEO Craig Fraser said that while the hospital was in the black, tracking a $502,000 surplus, the report paints a picture of an organisation facing higher costs and demand.
"SWH is an extremely large and complex organisation that never closes. It runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year," Mr Fraser said.
"As SWH continues to grow, staff and executive teams have worked hard to secure additional funding and services.
"It's pleasing to note that despite increasing costs and demand, the health service returned an operating surplus of $502,000. This represents less than .4 per cent of the annual operating budget of $198m, reinforcing our strong governance and financial controls we have in place.
"This surplus assists us to reinvest in much needed medical equipment."
Staff costs were up more than $10 million seeing an additional 85 staff hired last year, which Mr Fraser said was due in part to new EBAs across the workforce, the CEO and executive directors included.
The hospitals 11 board members got a pay rise of up to $10,000 each due to a new state government decision to pay all board directors of rural health services.
The organisation's top boss received a pay rise of at least $20,000 to the $300,000 - $309,999 income band.
"Previously board directors of SWH and other smaller rural boards of directors were appointed on a volunteer basis with no remuneration for their time and expertise," Mr Fraser explained.
"Metropolitan and large regional health services' boards of directors have received remuneration for a number of years.
"Board directors are appointed by the Governor-In-Council, following nominations received by SWH, for a three-year period. They may be eligible for renomination for a further term/s to a maximum nine years in total."
Prominent board directors Russell Worland and Steve Callaghan retired and were replaced by Allison Patchett and Alex Gillan in July.
Mr Worland, former board chairman, had been on the board for 11 years.
"The regulations brought in meant I couldn't be reappointed for more than three terms," Mr Worland said.
"I think it's a good rule, if you haven't achieved what you wanted to in nine years then you're probably ready to go anyway."
SWH spent $10.8 million on drugs, $9.4 million on medical and surgical supplies and $4.5 million on information and communication technology in the last financial year, which the hospital would not confirm or deny was linked with the cyber security issues plaguing the organisation over the past month.
It undertook a review into its mental health services which carried out 33,351 community mental health contact hours in the last year, in preparation for policy and funding directions that arise from Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System recommendations.
11 per cent of adult SWH mental health inpatients were readmitted within 28 days of discharge in 2018-2019. There were 33,493 drug and mental health ambulatory service call outs, 1095 mental health inpatients and 5475 available bed days.
The hospital saw a drop in private patient fees which made up $1.7 million of the total combined patient income of $5.4 million, a decrease of more than $100,000 on the year before.
More patients spent longer periods of time in the emergency department, with numbers showing the percentage of emergency patients who spent less than four hours in the department was 63 per cent, falling short against its target of 81 per cent.
Urgent patients also waited longer to see a specialist, with only 66.4 per cent of a targeted 100 per cent of urgent patients referred by a GP or external specialist attending a first appointment within 30 days.
The organisation also completed a business case for the Warrnambool Base Hospital redevelopment.
"On the redevelopment front, significant time has been spent completing plans for the vitally-needed upgrading of both our Warrnambool Base and Camperdown Hospitals. We look forward to working with strategic partners to realise these important infrastructure projects," Mr Fraser said.
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