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  • Concern over Vic health system pressure

    Author: AAP

Victoria's health minister admits she was concerned after two vulnerable patients were forced to wait hours inside a makeshift tent outside the emergency department at a major hospital this week.

Mary-Anne Thomas acknowledged the "discomfort" experienced by a young cancer patient and an elderly stroke patient at Box Hill Hospital, as the state's health system continues to buckle under pressure.

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"I was concerned about what I'd heard was happening at Box Hill Hospital, so I did make enquiries in relation to two specific incidents," Ms Thomas said on Sunday.

"Again, I want to acknowledge the discomfort that was experienced by the two patients at the hospital at that time. But I am satisfied with the responses that I've received that patients were receiving appropriate care even while there was some discomfort being experienced by them."

She added that all patients across the state are assessed on the acuity of their condition at the time and are cared for appropriately.

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It comes after reports that an 18-year-old named William, who recently completed six months of chemotherapy for Hodgkins lymphoma, was forced to wait 27 hours in a hallway for a bed at Box Hill hospital last week.

In a separate incident, an 83-year-old nursing home resident was forced to wait inside a corridor for three hours before being "upgraded" to a makeshift tent outside, where she spent a further 16 hours.

The state's emergency departments are the busiest they have ever been, with presentations hitting a record 486,701 in the most recent quarter - an increase of 5.1 per cent from the previous quarter.

On Sunday, Premier Dan Andrews announced five new GP-led Priority Primary Care Centres will be established to help ease pressure on hospitals.

The $14.3 million project means each centre located near major hospitals, providing alternative care pathways for non-emergency patients.

"This will reduce demand on our emergency departments, ensuring those that need urgent care can get it faster and avoid an unnecessary trip to the ED," Mr Andrews said.

"The global pandemic has put health systems around the country under unprecedented pressure - and this is part of our comprehensive plan to deliver the care Victorians need, when they need it, close to home."

The centres will be located near Royal Melbourne Hospital, Northern Hospital Epping, Sunshine Hospital, Monash Medical Centre Clayton, and Grampians Health Ballarat.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the state's health system was in crisis and that the premier had failed to fix it over the past eight years.

If elected in November, the Coalition said it would reprioritise beds in the Mickleham Quarantine Facility to improve the health system at an estimated cost of $35 million during the first year.

Additionally, they would shelve the Suburban Rail Loop project, which could cost $125 billion in its first stages, to instead put more money in healthcare.

"It makes no sense that Mickleham should sit empty whilst we have a health crisis that is worsening by the day," Mr Guy said.

"We need to take advantage of this facility which in a short period of time could be used to accommodate hundreds of willing patients who no longer require acute hospital care and would be more comfortable in a setting with full support whilst they await placement into aged care or special accommodation."

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