OFFERING more comprehensive mental health services is on the agenda for Mildura Base Hospital (MBH) following an increase in Victorian Government funds.

Victorian Minister for Health, Jill Hennessey, recently unveiled the 2017-18 budget for MBH,  with $107.8million to be made available.

This is an increase of $5.819million, or 5.7 percent, on last year’s budget.

Mildura Base Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Julia Morgan, said the hospital executive team continues to strongly lobby for Mildura, saying she was pleased with the ongoing support from the State Government.

“To have a meaningful budget increase is a good result that means we can make some important improvements to the level of service we’re providing to the community, mainly in mental health services,” Ms Morgan said.

“Our mental health team has worked hard over a long period to build the case for improved services here – that was recognised last year with funding for our Prevention and Recovery Centre, or PARC, which is due to open at the end of the year.”

“Funding has now been earmarked in this budget to allow for a comprehensive service to be provided from the PARC.

“But it’s pleasing that’s also been backed up by extra funding for mental health community services, meaning patients will receive more and better support beyond the hospital walls.”

Ms Morgan said the funding increases placed hospitals, including MBH, in an improved position to manage emerging external budgetary challenges.

“While a five percent budget increase is welcome, we’re mindful that a substantial portion will be needed to cover our increasing costs,” she said. “New staffing Statewide Enterprise Bargaining Agreements have increased our wages costs by about 3.5 percent and, like many organisations, we’re also anticipating large hikes in electricity costs, which also need to be covered.

“It’s certainly very welcome that the funding increase will cover those gaps, meaning that those looming cost increases won’t be putting more pressure on our existing level of service across the hospital.”