A vicious stoush has erupted over hospital funding, with federal Labor claiming the government is cutting funds to the state’s most vulnerable, and in turn being accused of scaremongering.
Member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly said $2.2million is being cut from the electorate’s public hospitals by the federal Liberal government. That figure relates to a Commonwealth deal reportedly signed by NSW, but which Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has warned amounts to a “$715million cut” to hospitals across the country from 2017-2020.
Dr Kelly said the Bega Valley will be hardest hit, copping half of that figure over the three years.
The South East Regional Hospital at Bega is set to have $990,000 cut from its budget, while Pambula Hospital is losing $60,000.
Dr Kelly said the cuts were indicative of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s priorities.
“When the original decision was made to cut health funding, we [Labor] implemented the Health and Hospitals Fund to instead put in place better discipline around activities, and huge investment in preventative health to lessen the strain on the public hospital system into the future,” Dr Kelly said.
“The Liberals got in and tore that agreement up, and we’ve seen a steady roll out cost cutting measures since.
“The Health and Hospitals Fund was how we got the South East Regional Hospital in the first place.”
However, Liberal Senator for NSW Jim Molan said while he “would not go so far as to say that one of my Parliamentary colleagues is lying...this is scaremongering at its worst”.
“The truth is that federal funding for public hospital services under the Coalition has increased from $13.8billion in 2013-14 to a record $22.7billion in 2020-21 – that is a 64 per cent increase,” Senator Molan said.
“In NSW , the Coalition is delivering nearly $2billion more to NSW hospitals, compared to what Labor funded in their last year in government.”
Dr Kelly said the government’s move will shift even more responsibility to the state, which he said is already “triaging” regional hospitals, prioritising their city counterparts.
“They think we’re used to putting up with worse, so we will cop that better,” he said.
“With credit to Andrew Constance, he came out and said this was going to screw us up.”
Dr Kelly said the impression NSW is flush with cash following the sell-off of the state’s poles and wires network as well as the $4billion from the federal buyout of Snowy Hydro was a separate issue.
“Health is a shared responsibility. States do have the recent sell-offs, but those are one-offs. Health is not helped by one-off windfalls – we need to invest in long-term goals.
“Revenue has been the biggest story of our budget woes, but you have to be prepared for ups and downs of revenue – there won’t always be a mining boom!
“It’s why we’re making hard decisions on negative gearing and dividend imputation. This will be what helps pay for health and education,” Dr Kelly said.
“Those who are concerned about the dividend changes on their retirement income need to understand the extra burden an ageing population puts on the health system.
“The worry is we could end up with more of a user pays system and that really hurts.”
Funding cuts to Eden-Monaro’s hospitals
South East Regional Hospital – $990,000
Queanbeyan Hospital – $470,000
Cooma Hospital – $270,000
Tumut District Hospital – $90,000
Yass District Hospital – $90,000
Pambula Hospital – $60,000
Braidwood Multi-Purpose Health Service – $60,000
Bombala Hospital – $50,000
Tumbarumba Multi-Purpose Health Service – $50,000
Batlow/Adelong Multi-Purpose Health Service – $40,000
Delegate Multi-Purpose Health Service – $30,000