Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Health system


Health system

Mr GUY (Bulleen—Leader of the Opposition) (14:09): My question is again to the Premier. Suffering agonising abdominal and chest pain last month, Bec was sent by her GP straight to emergency. The northern suburbs mum arrived at the packed Austin emergency department at 10.00 am. An elderly lady also waiting told Bec she had been there from 6.00 pm the day before and was still waiting to be called, so Bec left. Still in severe pain, the 41-year-old then went to the Northern Hospital. The queue just to get to triage was out the door. Bec was crying. She said, ‘I’m in so much pain. I really need to see a doctor. Could you please get a doctor for me?’.

Eight hours later Bec was examined and told she needed emergency surgery to remove her gall bladder. She finally had surgery four days after she first sought medical attention. Will the Premier apologise to Bec, who suffered due to the government’s mismanagement of our health system, leading to dangerous clinical outcomes like this?

Mr Staikos interjected.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Bentleigh can leave the chamber for the period of 1 hour.

Member for Bentleigh withdrew from chamber.

Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) (14:10): First of all I would offer a personal apology and an apology on behalf of the government. I do not want to see any patient right across our system getting anything other than first-class care. That is the first point. The second point: I will not accept the contention of the Leader of the Opposition about mismanagement or a lack of care or a lack of funding. The Leader of the Opposition needs to acknowledge something just as I have acknowledged it—that anyone who is let down by the system is not only deserving of an apology but deserving of an email across so that we can follow up and learn from it. That is exactly it. If it is good enough to raise, then it is good enough to send an email so that we can learn from that experience and provide any additional support that that person may need.

But just as I have made that acknowledgement, the Leader of the Opposition surely must acknowledge there has been a global pandemic and it is not over yet. What it means is there are three records: there is record funding from our government, there are record patients who need treatment and there are record numbers of staff who are at home sick and not able to work. When you add those three things together, despite the best efforts—our recruitment, our investment over all our time in office and the most recent budget—there is still, because of record demand and record numbers of staff who cannot work, very, very significant pressure.

I thank every member of our team—every nurse, every ambo, every doctor, every cook and cleaner and ward clerk, allied health professionals—all of them. I thank them for their commitment, their skill and their compassion. I thank every patient who knows and understands that they are doing their very best and that the government is supporting them in unprecedented terms. I thank those patients for recognising that of course the sickest patients get treated quickest. Everyone is doing their level best. Our health staff have been through two years like no other, and despite the suggestions of some, our health staff are valued and our health staff do an amazing job. I will not stand for them being criticised by those looking for their own political advantage, because if they cared about the patients that they were referencing, they would send the details through so that we could make sure they got every support they are entitled to and so that we learned everything we might learn from their experience. You would simply press send on the email, wouldn’t you, or you would write a handwritten note, or you would do whatever you might do, and then there could be follow-up. In any event, of course I apologise. I do not want any patient to get anything less than what they need in their moment of need. If the details are provided to me, unlike the other 40-odd that have not been, I am more than happy to have the department and the treating hospital follow up to make sure that this person is properly supported.

Mr GUY (Bulleen—Leader of the Opposition) (14:13): A 41-year-old mother needing emergency surgery to remove her gall bladder had to take herself to two separate hospitals and wait four days to be given emergency surgery. How much longer will Victorians have to wait for the government to fix the health crisis that the government has created?

Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) (14:13): Again I completely reject this because the facts simply do not bear it out—the notion that apparently there has been no global pandemic. Apparently there is not one staff member who is at home sick, not one—so not actually 1500—not one even, not one. Apparently we do not have issues of deferred care. Apparently when I speak to Dominic Perrottet and he describes exactly the same thing happening in Sydney, he is wrong as well. At the end of the day it is about putting patients first, not putting politics first, and I will not be lectured by people who could not cut enough, could not close enough and now cannot even forward the details of the people they pretend to care about. We will continue to back our staff with record funding and support to treat more patients. We repaired the damage you did, and we will repair the damage that COVID has done as well.