The West

Hospital cuts not in plan
Hospital cuts 'not in plan'

The State Government has distanced itself from an audit by external consultants identifying $28 million of savings from hospital budgets through measures such as reducing hot meals and zimmer frames.

The Opposition uncovered the audit by Pricewaterhouse Coopers through Freedom of Information laws and used it to accuse the Government of plotting to reduce levels of care.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Kim Hames said no suggestions in the audit affecting patient comfort, including hot meals and zimmer frames, would be implemented.

The audit focused on Fremantle and Royal Perth Hospitals and identified cuts including patient transport, hydrotherapy, ordering of tests and overtime in mental health administration.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan branded the document “incontrovertible proof of the Government’s plans” which would have dire outcomes for service delivery.

But Premier Colin Barnett said the audit did not amount to Government policy.

“Here we see the sneaky, tricky Leader of the Opposition. He portrays it as a Government document when it’s not,” Mr Barnett said.

Treasurer Troy Buswell said it was wrong to suggest the Government had slashed hospital services when it had increased the health budget from $4.85 billion in 2008-09 to $6.56 billion this financial year.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Kim Hames said no suggestions in the audit affecting patient comfort, including hot meals and zimmer frames, tests, hydrotherapy and patient transport, would be implemented.

“It is good and sensible public policy and governance for Government agencies to review their operations,” she said.

“The south metropolitan health service undertook a sensible exercise by looking where they could make tactical savings at Royal Perth Hospital and Fremantle Hospital.

Some of the key areas identified in a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers were around simple things like procurement.

One example is buying bandages for multiple hospitals from the same supplier, which can result in savings for Western Australian taxpayers without hampering patient care.”

The West Australian

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