Private hospitals will be paid to operate on public patients under a Victorian government plan to maximise its funding in the state's stretched hospital system.
Nine private hospitals will receive about $4.8 million of state government funds to collaborate with public hospitals to perform 2100 elective surgery operations over the next five months.
It comes as Victoria's public hospitals prepare to cut jobs and close beds in the wake of funding cuts, as the state and federal governments remain locked in a dispute over hospital funding.
Victorian Health Minister David Davis has said the loss of $107 million this year in federal government funding to hospitals will have a significant impact on hospitals' ability to provide timely patient care.
In addition to the $4.8 million, $35 million has been allocated to public hospitals to complete some 8300 operations for about five per cent cheaper than standard surgery costs, Mr Davis said on Wednesday.
The scheme called on hospitals to submit tenders as the government looked to get the best available price for the surgeries.
Despite the government's new funding scheme, announced in the 2012 budget, Mr Davis said the state's hospitals would perform 21,400 fewer elective surgery operations unless the federal government restored the $107 million.
Mr Davis is disputing federal treasury calculations which were used to determine how much funding hospitals would receive.
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has said the state will actually receive almost $1 billion in extra commonwealth funding over four years.