Victorian health system continues to deliver quality care through difficult period

May 7, 2021

After more than 12 months of increased demand across Victoria’s health system due to COVID-19, in addition to other long-standing issues, the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) welcomes today’s announcement of financial support to meet the current pressures.

The latest quarterly figures from the Victorian Health Services Performance dashboard, released today, show the health sector is facing the return of pre-pandemic demand while still responding to the impact of COVID-19.

Data shows the number of people presenting to, and being treated within, Emergency Departments has returned to levels experienced prior to the pandemic, at the same time health services continue to respond to issues related to the pandemic. Similarly, the number of elective surgeries being conducted is at its highest level in the past year. This has led to some patients being asked to wait longer to receive care.

While some delays have been unavoidable, due to lockdowns and other restrictions, health services have continued to meet targets for urgent and Category 1 cases, meaning Victorians most in need are continuing to get the care they need when they need it. For instance, overdue days for urgent Category 1 elective surgeries are down to zero having been 94 for the same period last year.

Chief Executive of the VHA, Tom Symondson said the results show that the Victorian health system is able to deliver great care even under the most trying circumstances.

‘The Victorian health sector is going through a time of great stress; as well as dealing with significantly increased demand, services are still having to operate in a COVIDSafe manner, which causes every task and every episode of care to take that bit longer to complete. It’s a perfect storm. We ask the community to understand that this remains an unprecedented time and the sector is doing everything it can to keep up with demand.’

‘Health services have been expecting and planning for this increased demand which has been caused due to people not being able to access care or support during the lockdowns. Services have taken a number of steps to respond to these pressures, and, importantly, continue to provide the great care that Victorians need.’

‘Importantly, patients are still experiencing high quality care, with the Victorian Healthcare Experience Survey giving the system its highest patient rating of care score in the past 12 months, while the health sector has continued to meet its discharge experience target.’

As well as releasing the performance figures, the Minister for Health Martin Foley today announced that $759m would be included in the upcoming State Budget to help the system respond, and acknowledged the figures are likely to get worse before they get better. This includes $89m to boost capacity and drive improvements through Emergency Departments, as well as $200m to commission the opening of hospital facilities including additional beds and staffing. The majority of the funding is to support ambulance response times.

Mr Symondson has called on the Victorian Government to provide further support to the Victorian health sector in the upcoming budget.

‘While this funding announcement provides a strong foundation, the budget later this month is the perfect opportunity for the Victorian Government to continue to support the health sector as it supports the Victorian community through this incredibly difficult period. The VHA and our members remain committed to ensuring that Victorians receive the highest quality care in as quick a time as possible.’

The VHA’s Victorian State Budget 2021-22 submission is available here.