Minister for Health Dr Steven Miles, MHHS board chair Tim Mulherin and member for Mackay are demanding the Federal Government cough up $29M.
Minister for Health Dr Steven Miles, MHHS board chair Tim Mulherin and member for Mackay are demanding the Federal Government cough up $29M. Campbell Gellie

'Missing' $29M could drag out hospital wait times

MACKAY residents face longer times on hospital waiting lists if the Federal Government does not cough up a $29million funding shortfall state and local politicians believe they are owed.

Tim Mulherin, chair of Mackay Hospital and Health Services, entered the dispute over the 'missing cash', saying the $29m was in the budget and had already been spent on surgeries and procedures.

Mr Mulherin, the former Labor Member for Mackay, said the shortfall, which the State Government said was pledged even though the Feds dispute it, had built up from surgeries carried out over the past four years.

"The board has discussed these issues and is concerned, if the money is not forthcoming, we will have to make decisions that will have an impact on patient waiting lists," he said.

The $29m was seven per cent of the hospital service's annual budget and equated to 190 hernia repairs, or 150 hip or knee operations, the State Health Department said.

The missing money, $979million across Queensland according to the State Government, has become a hot potato, with newly-appointed Health Minister Steven Miles trying to embarrass the Federal Government while in Mackay yesterday.

He said the Federal Government was ignoring the independent regulator, who decided how much each branch of government should pay, as agreed to in the national health agreement.

Dr Miles said voters weren't stupid enough to believe waiting list extensions were the fault of anyone but the Feds. He said residents would end up putting pressure on sitting Federal LNP members, such as Dawson MP George Christensen, to cough up the money.

"This region cannot afford to have less health services - this region needs more health services," he said.

"This is taxpayers' money, money Queenslanders have sent to Canberra to pay for healthcare and money that is being withheld by Malcolm Turnbull while George Christensen sits silently by."

Despite spending two days in Mackay, Dr Miles said he was not going to visit Mr Christensen.

"The Queensland Health Minister is simply making up numbers. There is no missing money. He's embarrassing himself," a spokesman for the Federal Health Minister said.

"The truth is that Commonwealth funding for Queensland hospitals is increasing to record levels every year."

The spokesperson said Federal funding had grown from less than $1.8billion under the previous Labor Government to more than $4.8million in 2020-21.

"The Palaszczuk Government cut funding to Queensland hospitals by $63.8m in their last budget."

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