Hospitals in Victoria, Australia, could be forced to cut services in the next few months because of the federal government’s decision to cut $73m in its funding to the state.
From March, Victorian hospitals will be hit by the cuts, which are the result of an accounting method that has changed the way Canberra calculates health activity funding.
The loss is the equivalent of 12,000 elective surgery procedures or 180,000 emergency department attendees and is also enough to cover chemotherapy for 72,000 patients.
The decision emerges as state and federal governments continue to debate health funding due to looming cuts in Commonwealth contributions that will begin next year.
The former Australian government’s first budget resulted in deep cuts on the states, with Victoria losing $17.7bn for hospitals over the next ten years.
It is reported that despite previously agreeing to Victoria’s counting method applied by the former Victorian Liberal government, the federal Liberal government, through the National Health Funding Pool Administrator, has changed how the National Health Funding Pool is calculated and allocated.
Due to the cut in funding, Victorian hospitals will be badly affected, with Monash Health set to lose A$9.9m or 1,600 elective surgeries, while Ballarat Hospital will lose $1.85m, which could cover nearly 8,000 radiotherapy sessions.
Victoria will lose $73m upfront due to the change in counting measures and will be affected by a additional $36.6m cut every year.
Victoria health minister Jill Hennessy said: "Before the last election, the Liberals promised they would not cut health, yet all we have seen is cut after cut, after cut.
"These additional cuts to Victoria’s health system, which will hit our hospitals in March, are a direct attack on Victorian patients and their families.
"We are sick of the federal Liberal government continuing to cut Victorian health funding with the expectation that the Andrews Labour government will step in and fill the gap so Victorian hospitals and patients do not suffer."