BY TAMARA McDONALD
Health reporter, Geelong Advertiser
DOCTORS fear Barwon Health funding is failing to keep pace with the region’s ballooning and ageing population.
Despite the State Government boasting of record funding, the Australian Medical Association says funding is essentially being cut as it does not meet demand.
The concerns come after News Corp yesterday revealed Barwon Health’s elective surgery waiting lists will jump by more than 10 per cent under the new funding deal.
State Government funding for Barwon Health has risen, but year-on-year it has plummeted.
Between 2017-18 and 2018-19, funding for Barwon Health rose more than $47 million, previous statement of priorities documents show.
But between 2018-19 and the current financial year, it has gone up about $22.9 million, the new statement of priorities reveals.
Emergency department presentations at Geelong hospital are soaring, with 78,126 people attending in 2018-19, up from 73,373 the previous year.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said Barwon Health was receiving record funding for its nurses and doctors.
“Despite strong population growth, the worst flu season on record and savage Federal Government funding cuts, our hospitals are treating more people than ever before and Victorians are waiting less time for elective surgery,” Ms Mikakos said.
But AMA Victoria president Julian Rait said the Government’s spruiking of record health funding “didn’t mean anything”.
“Good planning requires not only additional funding but funding that’s commensurate with demand,” Associate Professor Rait said.
“The Surf Coast and Greater Geelong are growing enormously.
“Few people can afford to go to private hospitals, so it’s becoming a load on Geelong hospital.”
Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said the Government had failed to adequately fund services.
“This is a prime example of Labor talking big on health before an election and doing the opposite afterwards,” she said.
Barwon Health is among at least 18 hospitals that have demanded financial bailout assurances from the Health Department in order to continue to operate while in debt.
FUNDING FOR BARWON HEALTH
Source: Statement of priorities documents
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