Colin Barnett's optimistic 3% cost savings hit a brick wall when head health honcho Dr Peter Flett admitted there was a $26m blowout in the Health Department's budget. The already straining Department could find only $34m of a requested $60m budgetary slash and burn this financial year. Dr Flett promised a parliamentary committee (tantamount to ‘the cheque's in the mail') that the Department would compensate by finding savings greater than 3% in future years. 527 FTE staff can expect to lose their jobs by the end of the year.
Passing the buck
Responding to the Health budget blowout, Health Minister Dr Kim Hames said the health budget is ‘under considerable pressure' but he denied rumours the budget hole would balloon out to $230m. Taking the political football by both hands, Kim then blamed McGinty's mob for the situation: "There is certainly not enough money there and that's your [Labor government's] fault, not ours. The money was short $120m on the day we arrived," he told parliament. Part of his budgetary solution could be a public/private partnership (presumably similar to the arrangement at Joondalup) to fund the new Midland hospital, due to be opened in 2014. Kim said, "I'm not going to rule it out, I'm keeping all options open."
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Medical Forum's caesarean snowball
Our April feature on WA's escalating caesarean section rates has gathered a lot of media attention in the last few weeks. The story was first picked up by The West at the start of April and then reappeared on the front page after Easter, with Health Minister Jim McGinty touting a tough new policy on elective caeseareans to arrest the state's 33% c-section rate. Even TV channels picked up the story. With all this attention, it looks like the elective caesearean could be headed the way of the circumcision and no longer performed in the public system for non-medical reasons.
Masters of lying low
Perth's recently touted Masters of General Practice conference has fallen through, with rumours that lacklustre registration numbers were to blame. Flyers only reached GPs and businesses in late December, giving potential delegates less than eight weeks to get their act together. Not surprisingly, the organisers have been keeping low, but from what we hear, the conference has not been officially cancelled, merely postponed ... indefinitely.
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