Those forgotten in yesterday’s budget are the tens of thousands of Victorians who are yet to receive care as health services fail to deliver for Victorians.
With over 66,000 Victorians on elective surgery waitlists, it’s business as usual for Labor’s health system. The Budget Papers indicate the Department of Health and Human Services still aims to complete just over 200,000 surgeries this financial year – representing no change on the previous twelve months.
Only three-quarters of patients who require elective surgery for semi-urgent procedures (Category 2) are being treated when they should be. The proportion of Category 2 patients admitted within clinically recommended times dropped by 6 per cent on last year. That means prolonged pain for Victorians and a higher risk of future health complications.
The systemic failures of the state’s health system are not just limited to the elective surgery wait list. Too many Victorians who urgently need an ambulance were forced to wait. Ambulance Victoria was unable to reach over 53,000 Victorians who were experiencing time-critical, emergency risks to their health (Code 1 incidents) within 15 minutes.
When those patients were transferred to hospital, more than 105,000 Victorians were left waiting on stretchers for over 40 minutes to be transferred to an emergency department.
Victorians presenting to an emergency department for treatment also continued to wait longer than recommended. 2019-20 saw one quarter, or 449,000 patients, not treated within clinically recommended times.
Nor are Victorians getting in front of the medical specialists they need. The number of Victorians treated at specialist appointments has dropped by 106,000 patients over the last 12 months. Once again, the Department has no plans to deliver more appointments, with their target for this financial year remaining static.
While Victorians are not getting the health outcomes they deserve, Labor has also cut funding to the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund. This $45 million fund provided health services with the ability to implement innovative practices to deliver better patient outcomes and improve capacity, at a time when this is sorely needed.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Health, Georgie Crozier:
“Tens of thousands of Victorians have been left by the wayside by the Andrews Labor Government as health system performance goes into freefall. “The government must prioritise delivering essential health services to ensure all Victorian patients get a fair go and are not left to a decrepit system that picks winners and losers.
“Clearly more must be done to ensure DHHS is meeting its performance targets and delivering real outcomes for Victorians.”