I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Health in the other place. It relates to a plan being put in place by Monash Health to close the maternity, the newborn and the paediatric wards at Dandenong Hospital as part of Monash Health’s response to the code brown situation in the health sector.
Dandenong Hospital is the largest maternity hospital in the state. It is the main provider of maternity and paediatric services in my electorate, and the services it provides are absolutely critical to the people of the South Eastern Metropolitan Region.
We have seen mismanagement of the health system over the last 12 months as the government grapples with the pandemic. We have seen, as Ms Crozier has reported time and time again, the issues which have been created by the elective surgery bans. Well, child birthing services are not elective surgery. You cannot postpone them and you cannot cancel them. The same number of babies are going to be born in the South Eastern Metropolitan Region over the next six months as would be born whether the services were being provided by Monash Health or not. The suggestion that these services can be relocated to Casey Hospital is simply ludicrous.
If the government and Monash Health were aware of what was going on, they would be aware that around Casey Hospital at the moment there are enormous roadworks. Access to that hospital is heavily restricted. The suggestion that people can travel from Dandenong and elsewhere in the south-east to Casey Hospital when they would ordinarily be going to Dandenong Hospital is ridiculous. I have received an email in relation to this matter which states:
"They are also putting women’s lives and unborn children at risk also. I know personally that if I wasn’t so close to a hospital my daughter would have been stillborn due to my complications which came out of nowhere. Time was a crucial factor in her being here today. Having to travel that extra distance from Dandenong to Casey or Dandenong to Monash Clayton could result in lives being lost."
This is a serious issue. The suggestion of closing the most significant maternity ward and paediatric ward in my electorate and in the state and relocating it to Casey for an undetermined period of time is not providing the services that are needed in the south-east. It is not providing the services, frankly, that are needed across the state. I call on the Minister for Health to intervene to stop this absurd shuffling of the deck chairs which will leave the heart of the south-east without the maternity services it needs.