Victorian Government makes timely, systemic investment

July 19, 2022

The VHA is encouraged by the Victorian Government’s announcement of improvements to Ambulance Victoria’s operations, designed to ensure patients are taken to hospital quickly and to free up paramedics to get back on the road faster. 

VHA members continue do a tremendous job in difficult circumstances, including significant staff shortages. While we welcome this latest government response, we also urge greater appreciation that the sector is currently grappling with system-wide challenges that significantly impact emergency care.  

As part of a broader plan to ease pressure on the health system, the VHA is particularly pleased to see the $162 million go towards a range of initiatives that align with our research to appear in a soon-to-be-published issues paper. 

This includes increased use of offload staff at major hospitals, as well as an emphasis on enhancing emergency patient flow through the partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Recent research from VHA members on heart-related presentations highlighted the impact of longer offload times on mortality. Similarly, we support the recognition of the continued need for flexibility in the paramedic workforce. These latest announcements will help ease pressure points impacting patient flow at a time of peak health system demand. 

Digital solutions and data are also important tools that other health systems are utilising globally. The VHA is pleased to see the expansion of the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED), both in capacity and eligibility. Since its pilot by Northern Health in 2020, the VVED has shown itself to be a vital resource in directing Victorians to the appropriate place of care. Creating a new data dashboard to support care decision-making is a positive step to maximise our resources to deliver the care that Victorians need – and highlights the power of data to support care. 

Informed by the latest international and domestic developments, our forthcoming issues paper will highlight potential system-wide policy solutions that could assist the Victorian public health sector as it continues to manage severe workforce shortages and unprecedented demand. It is vital that public and community health services continue to be supported, with the current pressures unlikely to diminish soon. 

The Victorian public can also help to reduce demand for emergency healthcare by following the government’s advice to avoid illness by staying up to date with COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, wearing a mask indoors, paying attention to ventilation, and keeping 1.5 metres away from others where possible. 

The VHA will continue to advocate on behalf of its members to support them through this period of extreme system pressure.