West Moreton's $8 million health budget blow out

AN UNPRECEDENTED demand for services across the Ipswich region has blown the health budget out by more than $8 million.

Budget documents show West Moreton Hospital and Health Service couldn't deliver the necessary services within their allocated $469.8 million for the 2015-2016.

The budget blowout of $8.1 million, compared to a surplus of $9.9 million in the previous year, is a sign of a looming health crisis as the region's population ages and residents become sicker.

Ipswich's population is increasing by about 7000 people per year, but during the 2015-2016 financial year the health service treated 57,754 more patients than the year before.

The health service's Chief Executive Sue McKee says despite this year's blowout, there won't be cuts to services next year.

Yet without successive, significant boosts to funding there's doubt over how West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, which operates 10 facilities in the region including Ipswich Hospital, will be able to cope in the future.

Ipswich is one of the country's chronic disease 'hot spots' with about 50 residents losing a limb to diabetes each year, according to Diabetes Queensland.

More than 70% of Ipswich residents are overweight and more than 20% have heart disease.

That's a point of concern for Ms McKee who says the high levels of chronic disease will continue to place "significant" pressure on the financially struggling health system.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service saw 57,754 more patients than last year.
West Moreton Hospital and Health Service saw 57,754 more patients than last year. Kate Czerny

It took months to negotiate the 2016-2017 contract with the State Government which saw funding increased by $42.5 million.

Ms McKee said those additional funds would be put towards the delivery of more services.

Most of that money will be spent on staffing which soaks up 75% of the West Moreton health service's budget.

>>Hospital emergency: Thousands clog Ipswich emergency department with minor issues

It's not all doom and gloom - by the end of the financial year in June no Ipswich patient was waiting longer than the clinically recommended time for dental and outpatient services, or elective surgery.

"We have a dedicated team of highly skilled people who are here to provide the best possible health care for our community," Ms McKee said.

Sue McKee Chief Executive of West Moreton Hospital and Health Service.
Sue McKee Chief Executive of West Moreton Hospital and Health Service. Contributed

"We are developing plans for future expansion of services and infrastructure to meet these growing needs and looking at new and better ways of delivering health care to ensure we are able to deal with the growing need.

"We are also working with our partners to help improve the health of our community to reduce the burden on the health system going into the future."

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service is currently working on a long term plan covering the delivery health services over the next 10 to 20 years in anticipation of future demand.

The annual report for West Moreton Hospital and Health Service is due to be released today.



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