Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

NSW hospitals health dispute

Deniliquin Hospital's budget the creates government debate.

ZOE MCMAUGH January 25, 2013 4:32am

Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick has welcomed a response from Murrumbidgee Local Health Network that local hospital budgets will not be cut.

MLHN has denied claims from NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson and Shadow Health Minister Dr Andrew McDonald’s that $31.6 million has been ‘‘slashed’’ in the operation budget for this financial year.

Both MLHN chief executive Susan Weisser and NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner said the accusation from the Opposition was incorrect, labelling it scaremongering.

They both revealed the MLHN operation budget has in fact increased this financial year.

With an opinion that health should be the top priority for both state and federal governments, Cr Renwick said any funding cuts to the health system would be devastating.

‘‘It wouldn’t matter if it was only a $1 cut, there would be flow on effects.

‘‘Our hospital is already struggling, so taking a huge amount like $36.1 million out would have an enormous impact.

‘‘And we can little afford to lose any more jobs (if there are cuts).

‘‘Government have long been treating health as a joke, and I feel it should be the top priority.’’

Responding specifically to the NSW Opposition, Ms Weisser assured the community the Murrumbidgee Local Health District budget ‘‘has not been cut’’.

‘‘MLHD received an additional $14.4 million in funding in 2012/13 to a total allocation of $447 million.

‘‘Initial budgets are enhanced throughout each year to reflect implementation of agreed new patient services in LHDs.

‘‘This is over and above the initial budgets set at the beginning of the financial year.’’

Mr Robertson and Dr McDonald say the NSW Government plans to ‘‘cut an unprecedented $3 billion from the public health system’’.

Ms Skinner said she was ‘‘disappointed’’ by the comments, considering the NSW health budget increased this year by 5.4 per cent to a ‘‘record’’ $17.3 billion.

She did, however, reiterate plans to redirect $2.2 billion in health funding, which she said would be sourced from better use of existing resources and efficiency savings.

‘‘Over four years, $2.2 billion in efficiency savings will be made in health to be reinvested in frontline services.’’

This money will be staying within the NSW health system and is not a ‘cut’.

‘‘There is a labour expense cap of $775 million over four years - $89 million this year. All portfolios across the NSW Government have been tasked to make these labour expense cap savings to restore the state’s finances and ensure we live within our means.

‘‘Local health districts have been given control over how they redirect the $2.2 billion to create greater efficiencies in the health budget.’’

Ms Skinner said implementing improved models of care, permanently employing staff instead of using casuals and the elimination of duplication in administration will help reduce excess spending.

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