South Australia Shadow Minister for Health Martin Hamilton-Smith
Minister’s Mismanagement Hacks Health Budget
Victor P Taffa
Crisis measures across at least six budget lines are clearly being put in place for damage control of Health finances in the face of massive budget overruns, bungled projects and costly financial mismanagement under the tired leadership of Health Minister Hill.
Job cuts: “This week’s announcement that 53 full-time positions will be cut at an average cost of $190,000 to save $10 Million is a drop in the ocean given that Health failed to shed 351 full-time positions as required by Treasury. Clearly there is more pain to come.” Shadow Minister for Health Martin Hamilton-Smith said.
Capital works cut backs and delays: “Under Treasurer Brett Rowse has foreshadowed that Treasury will require the Health Minister to look at cuts or delays to capital works at least to fund the $15 Million overspend at the Glenside hospital site caused by unforseen remediation issues. Capital works cuts may be used to fund other cost overruns.
Workforce constraints: “The Health Minister has banned flexitime for employees to save up to $13 Million a year. Nurses and ambulance officers have endured payroll irregularities and delays. Nurses have demonstrated about alleged understaffing at hospitals across the state.
Cuts to supplies, services and maintenance: “Directives have been issued to hospitals that only essential supplies should be purchased, that existing supplies should be exhausted, that a review is to be undertaken of non-essential stock purchases and petty cash management along with purchasing and disbursement arrangements for low-cost capital items due to ‘significant pressure to reduce expenditure’ be undertaken.
Reduced funding to NGOs: “Non-government entities like SHINE (Sexual Health Information Network), who received $5.7 Million in 2011, are reporting cuts of up to $800,000. Other NGOs in the drug and alcohol services and family health sector are reporting cuts to funding.
Transfer of cost to the Commonwealth: “Parliament has heard that the Health Minister is engaged in an array of devices designed to transfer doctors? charges at public hospitals to Medicare both in the country and in the city.
“$88 Million in the red last year and $125 Million this year, with worse to come. All this could have been avoided if, as the Auditor-General has observed, the Minister for Health and the Labor Government had exercised ‘adequate management attention’.” Mr. Hamilton-Smith said.