Major Public Hospital Struggling To Pay Its Electricity Bill – 11 February 2000

A major Sydney hospital is so cash strapped that it is paying its electricity bill in instalments the Australian Doctors’ Fund claimed in Sydney today.

The crisis came to light when a cheque and accompanying paperwork was sent to the wrong address, namely the offices of healthcover magazine, in Sydney in November 1999.

healthcover reported in its most recent issue that the cheque for $95,791.03 was one third of an outstanding payment for supply of electricity to one of Central Sydney Area Health Service’s major hospitals. The second instalment was to be paid at the end of 1999 with the final instalment “In the new financial year of 2000/2001”.

This revelation follows from a 21 November 1999 article in The Daily Telegraph that claims despondent creditors were being told that the NSW Health Department “simply does not have the funds to pay the bills and does not know when it will.” One small businessman has been battling for over six months to get a cheque for $380 from the Southern Area Health Service.

Executive Director of the Australian Doctors’ Fund, Mr Stephen Milgate, said “According to the most recent financial statements the NSW Health Department has accounts payable of $289 million and cash of $76 million. It has current liabilities of $869 million and current assets of $517 million.”

Even more startling is the fact that the NSW Auditor-General qualifies the Department’s financial accounts stating “…the Department of Health did not have the approvals required by the Health Services Act 1997 when it lent funds to certain Area Health Services” and “In my opinion, these advances do not comply with the provisions of the Health Services Act 1997.”

“The NSW public hospital system is financially non-viable. It can’t pay its way. It’s broke.”

“The only responsible financial decision the Government can make is to appoint a receiver immediately to take control of the Department’s finances,” said Mr Milgate.