Health service set for $16.5m budget blowout
THE new boss of an embattled Queensland hospital and health service has forecast a $16.5 million financial year budget blowout - but he is not the only hospital boss facing financial woes.
But The Courier-Mail understands Metro South Health chief executive Shaun Drummond is not alone in his financial woes, with a string of other Queensland hospital and health services also facing end-of-year budget deficits.
Children's Health Queensland, Ipswich and West Moreton, Cairns and hinterland, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are all believed to be over-budget just a month out from the end of the 2018-19 year.
Mr Drummond, who took the helm at Metro South four weeks ago after his predecessor Stephen Ayre was dismissed, said he did not have enough time to turn the health district's budgetary fortunes around before the start of the new financial year.
But he pledged to have the health service's books balanced within 12 months.
Metro South Health is Queensland's second largest hospital district and in the top five in the country based on size, servicing a population of one million people.
It manages five public hospitals, including the Princess Alexandra, Logan, Redland, QEII and Beaudesert.
Dr Ayre was terminated by the Metro South board as its chief executive in April after a series of failures, including hundreds of patients a month waiting more than 24 hours in its hospital EDs and lengthy delays for paramedics in getting patients off stretchers - a practice known as ramping.
Mr Drummond, who was chief executive at the highly acclaimed Metro North Hospital and Health Service before taking a one-year contract to turn around Metro South, admits he faces challenges.
But he said he was already seeing improvements at Metro South by introducing some of the strategies used at Metro North, home to Queensland's biggest public hospital, the Royal Brisbane.
He said he had put frameworks in place so that Metro South hospitals were sharing the pressures of bed availability rather than working as silos.
"We had an example on Tuesday where Logan Hospital had beds available for a change and every other hospital inside Metro South was full," Mr Drummond said. "We shifted patients from Redland to Logan to help ease the pressure across the whole system. It worked. We're balancing the resources and not letting any one area completely bear the burden. It's allowing us to use our resources more efficiently."
Mr Drummond said ambulance ramping had decreased in recent weeks under new initiatives.
"I'm in no way saying it's fixed but it's on the right trajectory," he said.
Metro South has also started providing more hospital-in-the-home services to free up inpatient beds and is expanding specialist outpatient clinics at all of its hospitals to reduce waiting lists.
In 2016, the Cairns and Hinterland HHS board resigned, and an administrator was appointed, over fears it would deliver an operating loss of $80 million in 2016-17 - more than 10 per cent of its operating budget.