A meeting was held at the Bundaberg Hospital last week. Burnett MP Stephen Bennett believes the deficit of Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service could be up to $10 million, with it set to rise. Picture: Brian Cassidy.
A meeting was held at the Bundaberg Hospital last week. Burnett MP Stephen Bennett believes the deficit of Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service could be up to $10 million, with it set to rise. Picture: Brian Cassidy.

Health service deficit could be in the millions

MORE supplies and equipment, and changes to infrastructure, have meant “significant costs” to Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service’s budget.

It is understood an internal discussion about the state of the health service’s affairs was held at Bundaberg Hospital last week.

Burnett MP Stephen Bennett said he had heard of the “crisis meeting” and he was informed by “whistleblowers” that the deficit could be as much as $10 million.

Mr Bennett said eight months ago when former chief executive Adrian Pennington was sacked, it had a surplus of $10 million.

He was concerned the deficit might mean job losses, and said the figure was predicted to balloon by more than $30 million in a year.

He said he was also told key performance indicators had not been met, such as the length of time it took for ambulances to be cleared at emergency departments.

He said rising costs and incomplete KPI targets would not be caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, with only five of the region’s 28 diagnosed cases requiring hospitalisation.

A WBHHS spokesman said there would be no reductions of permanent staff, and there would be no redundancies.

“WBHHS always looks at strategies to improve and operate in a fiscally responsible way and provide value to the taxpayer while continuing to provide the highest standard of care,” he said.

“Among these strategies is finding ways to reduce the use of more expensive agency or locum staff and employing local permanent staff.”

The spokesman said costs had risen due to the coronavirus response, but that its performance had remained high.

He said that in March that all Wide Bay elective surgery patients were treated in time, and 95 per cent of patients were seen within the recommended waiting time.

“The good news is that early indications show that strong performance has continued throughout April, despite the challenges of coronavirus during both those months,” he said



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