Advocacy organisation defends ‘save LRH petition’

GetUp has defended its ‘Save our Latrobe Regional Hospital’ petition.

Latrobe Regional Hospital board chair Kellie O’Callaghan last week criticised the advocacy organisation’s campaign, saying its emotive content risked eroding community confidence in health services across the region.

GetUp campaigns director Natalie O’Brien said this was not the organisation’s intention and feedback from unions indicated that hospitals across the country were at breaking point.

The petition is one in a series for hospitals across Australia and part of a nationwide GetUp campaign, which claims the Coalition has cut $57 billion from hospital funding since elected in 2013.

The petition claims LRH stands to lose up to $326.2 million in federal funding over the next decade, however the organisation said this figure was arrived at using assumptions based on a hospital’s size, relative to all other hospitals in the state and may not represent the actual amount of funding a hospital would lose. GetUp has now modified the LRH petition to include a reference and a link to its methodology.

Ms O’Brien said the projections were based on all of the available data and there was a “fundamental problem around a lack of transparency about the way hospitals are funded”.

“If this is the start of a conversation, that’s a wonderful outcome,” Ms O’Brien said.

“We will be working with local groups and would absolutely be supporting them to chat to local hospitals, they will deliver petitions to local MPs and be seeking meetings.”

LRH is yet to receive formal notification of its 2016/17 budget allocation, but says it is hopeful of a positive financial outlook in the wake of the State Government’s commitment to increase health spending.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the Coalition had signed off on an “affordable and deliverable” hospital-funding agreement with the states and territories that would deliver about $2.9 billion over the next three years.

“There have been no cuts to hospital funding. Hospitals will receive more money this year than they did last year and this trend will continue,” Mr Chester said.

“The previous Gillard Government promised $57 billion for hospitals over 10 years, which was never included in the budget and was unaffordable.

“Both the Coalition and Labor know taxpayers can’t afford those funded hospital promises made in 2013.

“The Coalition has committed a locked-in amount of money that will give patients, doctors and nurses funding certainty. As the Gippsland MP, I’ll be making sure we get our fair share of that funding spent in the Valley.”