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Vic hospitals rise to the challenge under record demand

07 February, 2017

Victorian hospitals have experienced unprecedented demand with 443,084 patients presenting at emergency departments across the state over the summer months, the latest health performance data shows.

This is a 24 per cent increase in the last six years, with more than a third of these patients needing to be admitted to hospital – the highest number ever – and was coupled with a significant surge in ambulance demand.

Last November’s unprecedented thunderstorm asthma event pushed hospital emergency departments to the limit, but this latest data confirms our doctors, nurses and paramedics did an incredible job in extraordinary circumstances.

The number of hospital emergency arrivals at Geelong and metropolitan Melbourne hospitals spiked at 9,909 across 21 and 22 November with the thunderstorm asthma event.

Ambulance Victoria analysis indicates that its December quarter response times are slightly above the previous three months, but without the surge in callouts for the thunderstorm asthma would have remained steady.

Hospital emergency department attendances also climbed as a result of the respiratory illness surge, but on most measures were an improvement on the previous three months.

The Andrews Labor Government’s record investment in ambulances and our health system is paying dividends, with elective surgery waiting times and ambulance response times an improvement compared to a year earlier.

Our $500 million plan to improve response times – the biggest ever investment in ambulance services – will employ 450 more paramedics, buy new vehicles and build new ambulance stations across the state.

As part of this package, $50 million will go towards improving emergency departments so patients can be treated and admitted quicker, freeing up ambulances to get back on the road sooner.

We also provided a $335 million funding boost for elective surgery in the Victorian Budget 2016/17 – the largest ever one-off investment to tackle waiting lists.

Patients waiting for elective surgery are now getting their surgeries quicker than a year earlier, with the December waiting list of 43,243 well below the record 50,054 patients waiting in March 2013 when waiting lists skyrocketed under the Liberals.

This would have been the lowest ever December waiting list on record – however Victoria now officially counts patients at two extra hospitals – Albury Wodonga and South West Healthcare.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy

“These latest figures confirm all Victorians can have confidence in our hospitals, doctors, nurses and paramedics – they’ve done an exceptional job rising to the challenge of thunderstorm asthma, and the tragic Bourke Street incident.”

“We have never experienced such demand on our health system, but we are treating and caring for more patients than ever before.”

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