North's health spend: $307m

TASMANIA'S Northern health organisation does not expect to make further cuts to services this financial year after receiving its final budget allocation for the year last week.

But Northern Tasmanian Health Organisation chief executive John Kirwan said yesterday that finances would be tight for probably another two years.

The region will be working to recover from cuts imposed last financial year at the height of the state government's financial crisis.

Mr Kirwan told the Northern Tasmanian Health Organisation at its meeting yesterday that its final budget from the state for this financial year was $307.6 million.

That included money from the federal government from the $325 million rescue package and a number of other monies that had not been factored into the original budgets announced when the health organisation became operational in July.

Mr Kirwan said that the $307.6 million was more than the $269.9 million the North received the previous year.

But that was because pricing costs usually met by the department had been transferred over to the regional organisations as part of the new federal structure of health service delivery.

``The department has transferred over to us costs normally paid by them such as insurance, business services and network costs,'' Mr Kirwan said.

He said that at this stage the organisation was not predicting the need for additional cost savings in the current financial year.

``Assuming our ongoing success at managing the deficit, we are not predicting the need to make additional cost-saving measures other than the continuation of those already in place,'' Mr Kirwan said.

``It was originally predicted that the THO-N would have a deficit in the order of $24 million but this has been reduced to less than $5 million through a range of strategies.''

This was despite the Northern Tasmanian Health Organisation having to deal with a number of unfunded costs including substantial increases in the rate of superannuation contributions, Launceston City Council rates and insurance premiums, Mr Kirwan said.

Cost savings and revenue-raising strategies starting to realise benefits included $700,000 expected this year from staff parking fees and the outsourcing  of the Launceston Linen Service to Southern-based BlueLine.


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