Colac hospital posts $320,000 budget deficit

Colac Area Health board chairman Max Arnott has discussed the hospital's budget deficit.

Colac Area Health board chairman Max Arnott has discussed the hospital’s budget deficit.

A DECREASE in aged care resident numbers has created a “small” $320,000 deficit in Colac Area Health’s bottom line, a CAH leader says.

CAH chairman Max Arnott said the health service’s annual report noted a $320,000 deficit for the 2013-14 financial year.

Figures from the 2012-13 financial year showed CAH broke even, and recorded a deficit in the four years before that.

“It is quite a small amount in the context of $37.7-million total expenditure, and equates to about 0.85 per cent of our total turnover,” Mr Arnott said of this year’s deficit.

Mr Arnott said the deficit would “not have immediate impact” on services or staffing but CAH was “always looking for efficiency within the organisation”.

“There is no immediate crisis that needs to be attended to, it is an ongoing process to ensure the sustainability of organisation,” Mr Arnott said.

“The biggest challenge last year was Corangamarah aged care facility, due to lower occupancy due to lower demand, with people staying in their home longer,” he said.

“The profile has changed rapidly in last 10 years when the average stay was up to seven years – now it’s less than six months.”

Mr Arnott said CAH had reduced beds from 73 to 60 while retaining bed licences to allow Corangamarah the flexibility to expand according to future need.

But he said Victorian health department monitoring showed CAH received “very good feedback” on compliance surveys.

“That is the highlight of the year – staff need to be congratulated for the work they do, they work smarter to meet and exceed all our compliance requirements,” Mr Arnott said.

Mr Arnott said the hospital board was looking ahead to the next 12 months, with projects including improving the palliative care unit, seeking government assistance for the Long Road Appeal for a Colac cancer treatment centre, and a growth in dialysis and oncology provision for patients.

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