Coronavirus response pushes up BCH’s deficit

February 11, 2021 BY

Bellarine Community Health says there are several reasons for the deficit, such as lost revenue due to COVID-19, the unfunded provision of free COVID-19 testing, extra clinical costs to address waiting lists, back payment of award entitlements, and the costs associated with the implementation of new information and communication technology and infrastructure. Photo: BELLARINE COMMUNITY HEALTH

BELLARINE Community Health is blaming the coronavirus pandemic and the efforts made in response for its $2.8 million operating deficit in the past financial year.

The healthcare provider revealed the figure – which excludes capital income, depreciation and amortisation – at its annual general meeting last month, and announced it was also implementing a turnaround strategy following “under-performance over recent years”.

At the AGM, BCH members heard there were several reasons for the deficit, such as lost revenue due to COVID-19, the unfunded provision of free COVID-19 testing, extra clinical costs to address waiting lists, back payment of award entitlements, and the costs associated with the implementation of new information and communication technology and infrastructure.

The turnaround strategy to address the financial position and return the organisation to a sustainable operation will include more robust financial controls and reviews, increasing productivity, revenue generation, reviewing targets and demand for services, and a structural review with a further reduction of staff numbers and ongoing review of corporate overheads.

“I understand that this is a disappointing result, but both the board and executive are confident that we can turn the situation around and return BCH to a balanced budget in the foreseeable future,” BCH board chair Fay Agterhuis said.

BCH also announced it is presently unable to commit funds to the redevelopment of the Eric Tolliday Units at Point Lonsdale.

“I want to make clear to the community that we are not abandoning the Eric Tolliday Units,” Ms Agterhuis said.

“We are currently pursuing alternative funding opportunities and avenues to achieve a redevelopment, but BCH itself does not currently have funds to commit to the project.”

On the good news front, positive outcomes for the year included significant investment in information technology to allow staff to work from home and implement a range of online services including telehealth, and securing capital funds for further redevelopment of the Portarlington site.

Ms Agterhuis acknowledged the commitment, dedication and hard work displayed by the BCH staff and volunteers during the past 12 months.

“I want to sincerely thank all BCH staff and volunteers for their ongoing commitment to providing the best quality health and wellbeing services to communities on the Bellarine during what has been a challenging 12 months,” she said.

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