Concerns about the potential impacts of proposed funding cuts and reform within community health were addressed when Shadow Minister for Health Georgie Crozier accompanied Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland to a visit at Nexus Primary Health.
Ms Cleeland said Ms Crozier visited last month to review issues in regional healthcare by meeting with service providers and hospitals.
“With an already stretched budget, further cuts to Nexus will undoubtedly result in poorer health outcomes for people in our region,” Ms Cleeland said.
“They do an incredible job with limited resources, delivering a stunningly broad range of services.”
Nexus Primary Health clinical manager Daniel Ciccosillo said Nexus was able to leverage off existing community connections to deliver services but was experiencing financial difficulties to continue at a local level within the acute sector.
“With indexation in state and federal funding not keeping up with inflation, wage increases, and cost of living, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain levels of service,” he said.
“As an indication of the costs that need to be incurred to service such a large area, Nexus spends nearly $25,000 per month just on travel for our community support workers, getting them from client to client.
“This cost is unavoidable due to the employment awards that community support workers are employed under – payment for travel time and travel kilometres.
“If this were to be factored entirely into the funding as suggested, the amount of units available to deliver to the community would be significantly reduced.”
Nexus managed to continue services during COVID, however, Mr Ciccosillo said it came at a ‘considerable cost’ for any sort of funding that was above and over funding agreements.
“Through COVID it was made abundantly clear that the expertise and resources within community health can adapt and respond to the changing needs of the community, in partnership with the tertiary health services, he said.
“We are now not able to continue providing those services over and above our funding agreements.”
As a result of funding not increasing, services such as domestic assistance and home maintenance were not accepting further referrals, with personal care likely to be impacted in the nearest future.
Mr Ciccosillo said the cost providing services over a large geographical area was crucial and not ‘appropriately considered’ within the unit prices provided by government bodies.
“National Disability Insurance Scheme, NDIS, have deemed it appropriate to provide a unit cost of nearly $200 for a service that Community Health, HACC or Commonwealth funding will only pay $110,” he said.
“Any cut to the funding that supports the underlying work in community health will reduce the ability to support any health campaign the faces the sector.
“One example is the ability for community health nurses supporting patients admitted to the Hospital in the Home program or who have been discharged home but require post-acute care services.
“Community health organisations are the fabric of the health network. “