Tuesday, 21 June 2022


Northern Victoria hospitals

Northern Victoria hospitals

Ms SHEED (Shepparton) (19:14): (6432) My adjournment is for the Minister for Health, and the action I seek is that the minister direct the Department of Health to urgently provide regional hospitals in northern Victoria with the staff they need. To keep these regional hospitals functioning and able to provide the critical services required by our communities, a surge workforce needs to be provided to them immediately. In regional areas there is no capacity to access staff such as doctors and nurses from other hospitals nearby, as may be possible in metropolitan areas. Staff shortages are critical, and hospitals across northern Victoria are under enormous pressure because of this.

Just today Albury Wodonga Health has posted on its Facebook site that it is currently experiencing high demand across all services. It asked that people be aware that they may experience delays at the emergency departments. Reminders are given of other services to be accessed by the community, including GPs, Nurse-on-Call and a range of other telephone support lines. They do, however, urge those needing urgent medical assistance to present at the hospital for treatment, and they seek understanding and patience from the community.

Today Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton has posted on its Facebook page that the emergency department is currently experiencing extremely high demand, resulting in lengthy wait times for patients with non-urgent matters. They ask that people only come to the emergency department if their condition is urgent or life threatening. Again, options for non-urgent cases are outlined, and the post points out the staff are working as hard they can to attend to all patients as quickly as possible, prioritising life-threatening emergencies.

Northeast Health Wangaratta, Goulburn Valley Health and Albury Wodonga Health have all resorted to code yellows in recent months to deal with these situations. The burden of illness and additional beds being taken up by those with COVID, the flu and delayed treatment needed for other medical conditions is creating extraordinary pressure in these hospitals. Across our health facilities in northern Victoria it is a struggle to retain and even entice medical and nursing staff to come. This has been exacerbated by two years of closed international borders and the fact that most new graduates want and find work in metropolitan areas. The Shepparton district is a wonderful place to live, but there are serious barriers as to why new residents are not drawn there at the moment. That is because of a dire shortage of housing in rental and owner sectors, so new residents have very little choice when it comes to accommodation.

My office has spoken to health staff who are at their wits’ end with the staff shortages. They are burnt out and exhausted. One nurse who said she had never been closer to quitting in her long career confirmed that we urgently need more staff. While the substantial investment in the public health system is very welcome, it is the shortage of available staff to work right now that is the critical issue in our regional hospitals, and we need help.