Hospital loses money and nurses

Matt Dunn


GIPPSLAND Southern Health Service suffered a $1.1 million loss of revenue in 2018/19, on the back of a nurse exodus.  

During a sombre AGM last week, board member Duncan Smith said the financial result was

“quite in contrast” to the previous financial year, when GSHS recorded a $565,000 surplus.

“There were a number of factors that affected the result. The two most significant items were an increase in salaries, coupled with a decline in in-patient revenue,” he said.

“The organisation’s total employee expenses increased by $3.5 million or 13 per cent, compared to an increase in the total income from operating activities of $1.5 million or six per cent.  

“That’s a $2 million increase in expenditure without an equivalent increase in income.”

He said an inability to meet “hospital patient targets” had led to a funding recall of $760,000.

Mr Duncan said the hospital’s adherence to stipulations it adopt the Safe Patient Care Act 2015, which forced it to employ 7.35 full time equivalent after-hours coordinators, had also led to a cost blowout.

Asked how much of the wage bill for the after-hours coordinators was being picked up by the government, GSHS CEO Mark Johnson said “nil at this stage”.

Neither could he could he say why funding had not been granted to the hospital.

The Star put the question to Victoria’s Department of Human Services, but had not received an answer before it went to print.

In his foreword to the health service’s annual report, Mr Johnson said GSHS was working the with the health department on a “financial management improvement plan”.

The revenue loss comes on the back of claims by a Leongatha Hospital insider that nurses were leaving in droves.

Overtime at GSHS is up $330,000, an eight per cent increase on the previous year. Some staff are working double shifts to make up for staffing shortfalls.

The staff member said 22 nursing and midwifery staff had resigned from Leongatha Hospital since the start of the year.

The whistleblower said many nurses were finishing their shifts in tears, with chronic understaffing driving some toward breaking point.

“The nursing staff are working extremely hard in continuing to provide safe patient care given the difficult circumstances,” they said.

“We’ve had 22 nursing and midwifery staff resign in 10 months. This is approximately 50 per cent of the acute ward and midwifery team.”

Mr Johnson said an independent investigation into bullying claims were ongoing, but any actions from it “will depend on the outcome and recommendations”.

“If it calls for reprimands or any other actions, GSHS will act in whatever way necessary to maintain the health and wellbeing of all staff. This will include acting on any recommendations to improve the work culture,” he said.

Mr Johnson said there were no plans to reduce the number of beds in the general ward.

Asked if there were plans to reduce the number of midwives from two to one on the average shift, Mr Johnson said, “We constantly review all staffing arrangements, including rosters for midwives and numbers restored on each shift and on-call options.” 

“We will continue to do everything possible to provide the best and safest service to the community, he said.

“In all facets of the health service operation, GSHS will continue to do everything possible to provide the best and safest service to the community.

“The total number of staff at GSHS increased from 259.35 FTE to 280.72 FTE in the past financial year.

“GSHS continues to advertise for more midwives, nurses and other hospital staff as needed.”







Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=30471

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