STAWELL - Stawell Regional Health has welcomed the decision by the Federal Government to reinstate $107 million in funding for Victorian health.
The Federal Government's decision to slash funding for hospitals across Victoria, including Stawell Regional Health, caused widespread dismay when it was announced in December.
The original announcement put $168,000 worth of local health services at risk.
Stawell Regional Health chief executive officer, Rohan Fitzgerald said the announcement of the reallocation came as a shock.
"We first heard about this through the media, but have now received formal notification," he said.
"It came as a surprise considering it was back in November when we were advised that the funds would be withdrawn.
"Stawell Regional Health gratefully receives the funds and will be putting them back into providing the patient care and services the community relies on.
"With the funds we'll be able to continue to provide the level of surgical and medical support we would have had the cuts not been announced in the first place."
Mr Fitzgerald said it is a good result for the local community, but only in the short term.
"I don't think a lot of the community are aware that after the end of this financial year we will be placed back in the same situation," he said.
"Although this is a reprieve for this financial year, the cuts will still apply for the next financial year.
From July 1 potentially $320,000 worth of cuts will take affect at Stawell Regional Health.
"As a health service it is very difficult to make decisions with this level of uncertainty," Mr Fitzgerald said.
"I'll be looking for further guidance on the security of funding for the future.
"It is unfortunate it took three months of campaigning for the funding already promised to be reinstated.
"It was quite unprecedented in the first place to have funding cuts announced part way through the financial year."
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the reinstatement of the funds was a rescue package to address the premier's failure to properly manage the state's health system.
"This funding injection will go directly to frontline hospital administrators so they can immediately restore services shut down by the state government in recent months," she said.
Ms Plibersek said 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.
"There's been a $196 million increase in Commonwealth funding for hospital running costs between last year and this year, yet waiting lists are longer and emergency treatment times are slower.
"Commonwealth funding will increase by another $900 million over the next four years and we expect the Victorian government to lift its game.
"Instead of doing the right thing by the state, the Liberal government has engaged in a politically-driven campaign of stunts and spin designed to distract from its own budget cuts and failure to properly manage Victoria's health system."
Ms Plibersek said Commonwealth funding to Victorian hospitals was increasing by $900 million over the forward estimates.
Nationals Member for Western Victoria David O'Brien said he cautiously welcomed the back flip but also queried the decision on future funding cuts which at this stage remain in place.
"It was announced that $107 million in unjustified federal government cuts to Victoria's health system this financial year have been abandoned and that those funds will be reinstated and paid to Local Hospital Networks," he said.
"This means approximately $24,000 per month will be returned to Stawell Regional Health.
"This funding should never have been cut in the first place, with the Government using the justification that the Victorian population had decreased in 2011.
"In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that Victoria's population grew by 75,400 people in 2011.
"The announcement only applies until June 30 and leaves in place a further $368 million in cuts to Victoria over three years, which will again impact significantly on Victoria's hospitals and patients in four months time."
Retiring Nationals Federal Member for Mallee John Forrest said the government's irresponsible spending over the past five years has begun impacting on regional communities.
"It is outrageous the commonwealth government looks to health to find spending cuts," he said.
"This is a direct result of the reckless spending of the Federal government."
Mr Forrest has the largest number of health services in his electorate of any member in the federal parliament.
"Not all of them are hospitals but 27 managers of our health services and all our local health professionals work hard to provide quality care for locals, within their budget."
Mr Fitzgerald said he had received advice on how the Federal Government would go about bypassing the state.
"The Federal Government has created a mechanism to allow payment between the Commonwealth and the hospital," he said.
"This will allow us to collect the revenue we lost as a result of the cuts."