Federal cuts a new blow to West Moreton Health Service

BOARD BLINDSIDED: Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg at Ipswich Hospital in September.
BOARD BLINDSIDED: Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg at Ipswich Hospital in September. David Nielsen

HEALTH services in Ipswich and surrounding areas have been dealt another funding blow, with the Federal Government stripping more than $4 million from this year's budget.

The funding cut for the West Moreton Health Service comes after its health board was asked to find $17 million in savings by the State Government earlier this year.

The board, led by chairwoman Dr Mary Corbett, was given a $373 million budget and almost balanced its books, but now is faced with cutting more services to meet a June deadline.

The Gillard government effectively overpaid funding to the West Moreton Health Service and is now asking for the money to be repaid.

Dr Corbett said the funding cut would affect services.

"We are extremely disappointed that the loss of federal funding of $4.3 million will impact on our services," she said.

"Like every other hospital and health service in Queensland, West Moreton will be significantly impacted by the removal of this federal funding.

"We will be reviewing a number of services and exploring strategies to identify where these savings will need to be made."

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Lesley Dwyer said so far 38 West Moreton health staff had taken voluntary redundancies, with more expected in the coming weeks.

"Where frontline staff have voluntarily agreed to leave the service there has been no significant impact on patient care," she said.

The extra cuts sparked a blame game between State Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann.

A spokeswoman for Mr Springborg said funding was allocated by the Federal Government directly to hospital boards, bypassing the State Government.

Mr Neumann said all budget cuts were the State LNP's fault.

"The political reality is the LNP government is cutting the funding. If they didn't why did they announce a health budget this year," he said.

He said the Federal Government had increased health funding by $600 million to $3.7 billion this year.

The spokeswoman for Mr Springborg said Mr Neumann "should be embarrassed by his lack of basic understanding on how funding for health is distributed".

"He is wrong, plain and simple," the spokeswoman said. "The West Moreton Hospital and Health Board were totally blindsided by Treasurer Wayne Swan ripping so much money out of their budget. No notice, no warning was given and this will cost hospitals, like Ipswich Hospital. Mr Neumann owes the good people of Ipswich an explanation."