Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Health system


Health system

Mr GUY (Bulleen—Leader of the Opposition) (14:32): My question is to the Premier. When two-year-old Tina was recently vomiting profusely with a 40-degree fever at night, her Templestowe parents went to the Royal Children’s and were told the wait would be hours, so they decided to go to the Monash Children’s. Her parents have said:

We were told to wait another four hours. It means six hours we needed to wait in hospital in emergency …

The last resort was Cabrini, where Tina was finally treated. When hospital staff are so overworked that children cannot be seen in an emergency, will the Premier finally admit that our health system is in the worst crisis in our state’s history?

Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) (14:33): It is clear to everyone that the last 2½ years have put extraordinary pressure on our health system. There is no denying that, and if you want proof that no-one is denying it—at least no-one on this side of the house—there is a $12 billion boost in the budget delivered this year plus many, many, many other decisions to support our health workforce and our health system in the last two years, in fact in each and every budget in each and every year that we have been honoured to govern this state.

We do not cut health funding. We do not close health services. We do not go to war with our workforce. We do not give nurses the bird—we do not do that. So my willingness to be lectured by people who do exhibit that sort of behaviour is pretty low. What is more, people who are happy to raise case after case—I know as a parent and as the Premier, no-one wants to see any parent have to go through that, of course not. That is why recently we have expanded some secondary services at the children’s hospital—a triage, if you like—away from the emergency department for those who have gone to the children’s but, unlike this case, can be sent somewhere else, just around the corner in fact, to get the care they need. They still need care, but if they cannot get it in their local community—GPs, for instance, may not be seeing patients—they go to the children’s. That is a perfectly natural thing to do, but they are overwhelmed with cases that are more acute. This is a secondary service that has gone online just very, very recently.

I am not referring to this case, but if you are prepared to raise the case, then just send the details. I am happy to speak to the Secretary of the Department of Health myself and say, ‘Professor Wallace, can you please follow up these 40-odd cases for me and get me answers on all of them, and if there are any learnings, let’s get on and make sure we learn from these cases’. I am happy to do that because it is not about the politics on this side of the house, it is about the patients. If you are raising a case of a former police officer who needs surgery, I am happy to follow it up, and I will do that. If you are raising the case of parents of a two-year-old who could not get the care they needed when they needed it, give us the details, and I will follow it up myself. The list goes on and on.

Of course there is real pressure. One only wonders what might have happened if the pandemic had arrived before we repaired the damage done to our health system by those opposite or if we had followed the public health advice of those public health experts sitting here to essentially let it rip. You know, the member for Kew and others said, ‘No rules. No rules. There is no pandemic. It’s all about the bats’. You know, if we had done that, imagine where we would be today.

Mr GUY (Bulleen—Leader of the Opposition) (14:36): This family had to travel from Templestowe to Parkville to Clayton to Malvern to have their daughter seen when she was profusely vomiting and suffering a high fever. If a family cannot have confidence that their sick two-year-old daughter will be seen in a reasonable time in the middle of the night, can the Premier inform Victorians what they are meant to do instead?

Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) (14:36): Despite the questioning from the Leader of the Opposition, every family ought to know and be certain about this: every member of staff in every hospital is under enormous pressure but has equal support from this Labor government. Every family ought to know that every member of staff across our health system has compassion and skill and is a person to be proud of—not to essentially criticise with these political questions. When you cannot even provide the details of the case study you are referencing, then you have no credibility whatsoever. You are raising these questions not for the patient but for yourself. For that the Leader of the Opposition ought to be ashamed.