South Australia’s public health services continue to “haemorrhage” money with a culture of overspending an issue for the sector, Treasurer Rob Lucas says.
Delivering the state budget for 2011/19, Mr Lucas revealed private consultants have been sent in a bid to bring health’s spending issues under control.
But he said the Liberal government recognised the savings in health identified by the previous Labor administration across the next four years could not be achieved in the context of delivering a high-class service.
At the same time, the government has put certain divisions, including pathology and radiology, on notice that unless they can achieve the cuts identified, it will consider privatising their operations.
The budget papers showed the overspend in health in 2017/18 was $255 million after rising from $87 million the previous year.
In 2018/19 it was expected to also finish around $250 million or slightly higher, a situation Mr Lucas said could not be allowed to continue.
“It’s a situation where it is haemorrhaging taxpayers’ money amid a culture that isn’t overly concerned,” the treasurer said.
Despite the spending issues, Mr Lucas said the government had followed through on its election promises in the health sector allocating $45 million over four years to cut elective surgery waiting lists.
It will also spend $30 million over three years on a meningococcal B immunisation program and will boost services at a number of metropolitan hospitals.
Mr Lucas said Labor had identified savings $516 million over the forward estimates to 2021/22, but the government had decided to cut that to $381 million.