Vic hospitals to keep funding after Govt backs down

Wednesday 20th February, 2013

The Victorian Government has welcomed the Commonwealth's decision to end a bitter health funding row affecting the state's hospitals.

After months of debate, the Federal Government will give back $107 million taken from Victorian hospitals.

State health minister David Davis says the funding cut was always based on incorrect state population figures.

"My job is to stand up for Victorian patients and fight for Victorian patients," he said.

"I've always sought to conduct this with decency and fairness, and what was clear the process the Commonwealth used, was flawed."

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek will not admit to a budgeting error, instead calling the funding a Victorian health rescue package.

"This is a system in crisis. It's being mismanaged by a cruel and incompetent government," she said.

"We believe we have an obligation to ensure Victorians are given the best possible health care.

"We will not stand by and allow Premier Baillieu's politicking to hurt patients."

In a break with convention, the Commonwealth will bypass the Baillieu Government and give the money directly to the local hospitals network.

Ms Plibersek says the State Government cannot be trusted to properly administer it.

Ms Plibersek says despite significant increases in Commonwealth health funding and additional GST revenues paid to Victoria, health results in Victoria have been going backwards for almost two years.

"Premier Baillieu ripped $616 million for essential hospital services out of two successive state budgets and you can see the results everywhere," she said.

Ripple effect
The per capita funding was to be withdrawn this financial year, based on a downward adjustment to the state's population figures.

The funding war between the federal and state governments has led to hospitals announcing they would cut jobs and operations.

Both sides of politics have been blaming each other for the funding shortfalls.

The Greens say a number of states could claw back funding from the Commonwealth following the decision in Victoria.

Greens health spokesman Richard Di Natale says Queensland and New South Wales could also have funding restored.

He says it is no coincidence the Government announced the deal on the eve of a Senate hearing that will consider the previous funding cut.

"The Government appears to have manipulated ABS data in order to justify these cuts, they were never justifiable," he said.

"It had to fix this mistake and it's done it on the eve of the Greens Senate inquiry in order to avoid embarrassment."