Blame game continues

AS politicians continue to blame one another for shortfalls in elective surgery treatment, Latrobe Regional Hospital’s most recent data shows it treated almost 100 people less last quarter than the previous quarter.

December performance data for LRH showed while the hospital had improved its performance over a range of treatment categories, elective surgery performance had dropped, with 800 non-urgent category three patients on the waiting list at the end of December, up from 785 listed at the end of the previous quarter.

LRH treated 1156 patients from its elective surgery waiting list in the December quarter, down on the 1251 waiting list admissions in the previous quarter.

The data followed a week of continued debate between federal and state governments over who was responsible for drops in hospital performance targets.

The State Government has maintained the mid-2012 cut of a key joint funding agreement by the Federal Government triggered an inevitable mass shortfall in elective surgeries statewide as the cuts had already hit hospital “bottom lines” before the Federal Government announced a reinstatement of those funds last month.

State Member for Eastern Region Matt Viney last week called on the State Government to release LRH’s Statement of Priorities to indicate whether the local health service faced an elective surgery “blow-out”.

He said recently leaked documents showed the State Government’s own budget cuts had caused a “massive blowout” in Gippsland waiting lists.

Mr Viney claimed the State Government had hidden the Statement of Priorities because they “showed the parlous state of the health system long before the funding stoush with the Commonwealth”.

He maintained the number of people in Victoria waiting for elective surgery had “sky-rocketed to its highest ever levels”.

State Member for Russell Northe hit back at suggestions the State Government had provided LRH with less money in the 2012/13 budget, saying that was “completely false and misleading” given the hospital had received a $7 million increase for this period.

Both MPs accused the other of, at some stage, having voted for measures which led to increased hospital waiting lists and delays.

While Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek insisted the State Government had imposed a $616 million health cut on the Victorian health system, Mr Northe said claims that LRH had received less money from his government were “bizarre” and inaccurate.