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18 December, 2020

A healthy result

IN 2016 the Cairns Hinterland Hospital Health Service faced an 80 million dollar deficit, this week they announced a balanced budget.

By Peter McCullagh

According to CHHHS chief executive Tina Chinery efficiencies in procurement and waste reduction are some of the key reasons for the turnaround in the financial position of the Health Service.

The CHHHS ended the 2019-20 financial  year with an operating surplus of $60,000 compared with an operating deficit of $9.1milloion in the previous year.

Chief Executive paid tribute to the efforts of staff over the past year in managing the balance between delivering essential health services and being ready for COVID-19 cases.

“Our focus in the second half of the financial year shifted to the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery with work also focusing on the continued delivery of essential health services.”said Ms Chinery.

Ms Chinery said despite the budget savings, patient services had increased in the 2019/20 period.

“Increased cost of transport, PPE and general goods and services over the pandemic period may have offset any savings that might have been made due to the downturn in patient activity reducing the opportunity to deliver some saving strategies,” the report stated.

The service received a budget of more than a $1bn from the state in 2019/20.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2019-20 there was a 16 per cent increase in the number of telehealth consultations with 1178 more than the previous year.

The median emergency department waiting time was 14 minutes, the same as the previous year.

CHHHS Board Chairman Clive Skarott said the period was one of unexpected challenges and “extraordinary achievements”.

“Our end-of-financial year break-even result marks the successful end of our three-year plan to return to a balanced budget.” said Mr Skarott.

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