The report stated the health service had an operating deficit of $9.43 million for the 2019-20 financial year.
The health service, the most densely populated in the state, will be under financial pressure from the pandemic, IT improvements, an ageing population and increasing prevalence of chronic disease.
Queensland hospitals have already been told to “do more” with their funding to allow Labor to fulfil its election promise to hire more doctors and nurses with money from a 2 per cent efficiency dividend.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath’s office referred funding questions back to the health service.
A Queensland Health spokeswoman said in a statement that $2.67 billion was being invested in healthcare services in the Metro South region, which was $105.5 million more than last year’s budget.
“Patient care is always a priority and anyone who presents to a Queensland hospital will be seen – no one will ever be turned away,” the spokeswoman said.
“Metro South Health is prioritising efforts to transform models of care, optimise the use of available staff and infrastructure, and balance investment between the current service demand – with a focus on emergency department and elective surgery access – and prevention and early intervention initiatives for longer-term benefits for their community.”
The health service, which includes the Princess Alexandra, Logan and Queen Elizabeth II hospitals, had a 1.4 per cent increase in emergency presentations last year.
Of those, a quarter were not seen within clinically recommended times, however 99.8 per cent of the sickest patients were seen within two minutes.
More concerning was the 30 per cent of category two patients, those with potentially life-threatening conditions such as chest pain or possible stroke, who were not seen within a clinically recommended time.
Metro North Hospital and Health Service has slightly fewer people in its catchment than Metro South, about 900,000, but also has the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital as its main facility, as well as major satellite hospitals including Redcliffe and Caboolture hospitals.
Unlike Metro South, Metro North HHS recorded an operating surplus for 2019-20 of $31.8 million, which its annual report credited to an effort to “maximise our resources and reduce waste across the health service”.
Despite that, Metro North listed “service demand growth” as its key operational challenge for the coming financial year.
The health service had nearly a 6 per cent increase in emergency presentations over 2019-20, including 34,672 presentations to fever clinics.
Like Metro South, Metro North treated most of its category one patients in recommended times, however its category two presentations were lagging, with 74.4 per cent seen within the recommended 10-minute window.
Lydia Lynch is Queensland political reporter for the Brisbane Times
Stuart Layt covers health, science and technology for the Brisbane Times. He was formerly the Queensland political reporter for AAP.