Victoria’s health system is failing to meet vital performance objectives, with hospitals being placed under extreme pressure, reports into the sector reveal.
Annual reports from Victoria’s health departments, tabled in parliament, show patients have waited months and years for critical services, with paramedics failing to meet critical response times as the pandemic continues to place severe pressure on the state’s health system.
The Victorian opposition on Friday criticised flaws in the system.
Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said the government tried to bury the issue by releasing more than 100 annual reports in one day.
“This is a system in crisis,” Ms Crozier said.
“These reports just highlighted how bad the health system is, just how badly in shape the health system is in – this is from years of underinvestment from the Andrews government.
“This data just shows whether it’s the mental health crisis, whether it’s the elective surgery wait lists, whether it’s the dental wait list or ambulance response times, it’s right across the system.”
The Victorian health department’s annual report found the issues spanned across multiple services, including elective surgery wait times, mental health services, cancer screening, emergency department treatment and ambulance transfers.
Only 68 per cent of emergency patients were treated on time, while only 54 per cent of emergency mental health patients were admitted to a bed within the required eight hours.
Paramedics responded to 77.2 per cent of code 1 incidents within 15 minutes, when the target was 85 per cent, and for the most critical priority zero incidents, ambos responded earlier than the target of 13 minutes 81.1 per cent of the time, falling short of the 85 per cent target.
The Royal Melbourne Hospital, St Vincent’s, Western Health, Monash Health and Austin Health all reported pressure due to the pandemic.
Reports show emergency departments struggling, with most hospitals unable to get about 40 per cent of patients from an ambulance stretcher onto a bed within the 40-minute target.
In a horrifying revelation, a report from the Commission for Children and Young People reported two babies in Victoria died after child protection services reduced face-to-face visits and services because of Covid restrictions.
The commission also found that reduced face-to-face contact meant that child protection was unable to adequately assess risks faced by children experiencing significant vulnerability.
Ms Crozier said issues around elective surgery needed to be addressed.
“There are just too many people waiting in pain, having worsening medical conditions that are really deteriorating, putting their lives at risk that are not Covid related,” she said.
“We need to get that elective surgery happening.”
Chief health officer Brett Sutton on Friday acknowledged the health system was under pressure.
“I recognise there are pressures on the health system and the department is still going to be working really hard to be able to manage that with the Covid-safe settings,” he said.
During question time on Thursday, Health Minister Martin Foley hinted at the need for more support from the commonwealth.
“We have seen those employees put in extraordinary efforts over the last 21 months under the most difficult of circumstances,” Mr Foley said.
“I look forward, when this global pandemic is out of the way, to get into a space partnering with Ambulance Victoria, with paramedics, to get us back to that world-class standard.”