Fears of health funding shortfall
FEARS are growing among Geelong's leading health experts of a looming funding crisis.
Barwon Health has joined other public health services in requesting financial bailout assurances from the State Government amid reports of Geelong's projected massive population growth and ageing demographic.
This financial year, the Government said funding for Barwon Health had gone up$25.9 million on the previous 12 months,announcing an allocation of $578.71 million for 2019-20.
But funding documents show the figure pales in comparison with increases in recent years.
Back in 2017, the Government boasted that Barwon Health would receive a $38.73 million increase for 2017-18 on the previous financial year.
And then in July last year, the Government spruiked an increase of $56.12 million.
The Addy has been told health figures hold concerns about the drop this year due to the need to cater for our ageing and increasing population.
It comes as the boss of the local Primary Health Network has flagged the need to significantly bolster health services to meet projected demand.
It is understood Barwon Health, like many Victorian public health services, has in recent weeks requested a letter of comfort from the Health Department.
The letters are a legal assurance the Government will provide financial support for at least the next year.
Concerns some Victorian hospitals are facing mass redundancies due to funding shortfalls have also been aired.
A recent report by the Regional Australia Institute revealed if growth occurred at a "business as usual" rate Geelong, which had a population of 278,929 in 2016, would reach 440,491 by 2056.
But if 20-40 per cent of population growth was diverted from Melbourne to the regions, Geelong would grow by 4 per cent annually, reaching 1.1 million people by 2056.
Western Victoria Primary Health Network chief Dr Leanne Beagley said the impact of such a population surge on the primary health care sector was a crucial issue.
"Dr Beagley said other frontline health services would also have to dramatically increase their staffing levels.
Opposition health spokeswoman George Crozier condemned the "funding crisis" and said the Government was not planning for the health needs of Geelong's residents.
But Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said Barwon Health was receiving record funding.
"Not only are we giving our hospitals what they need to offer world-class treatment, we're building the very best hospitals that families can count on," Ms Mikakos said.