Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Albury Wodonga Health


Albury Wodonga Health

Mr TILLEY (Benambra) (14:31): This should be interesting. My question is to the Minister for Health. Yesterday—

Members interjecting.

Mr TILLEY: Well, we know what we are going to get out of him, don’t we? This could go any way. But getting to the point. Yesterday—

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! When the house comes to order. Does the member for Benambra have a question?

Mr TILLEY: Speaker, I do. My question is to the Minister for Health. Yesterday, in the minister’s own words, the ‘world-class’ Albury Wodonga Health was again forced to restrict who can enter the hospital one day after warning about emergency delays. With nurses, clinicians and health professionals all calling for urgent action, will the minister stop making excuses as to why a new facility has not been delivered and finally admit that the border communities deserve a new hospital that can cope with the area’s population growth?

Mr FOLEY (Albert Park—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services, Minister for Equality) (14:33): I thank the member, with his guidance system clearly on autopilot, for his question. Albury Wodonga Health is a world-class health service, a regional centre for health provision delivered by the Victorian government in partnership with the New South Wales government, and the honourable member in his question touched on a really important point.

Late yesterday Albury Wodonga Health put out advice to its staff and its community pointing to the fact that they had to take certain measures to manage demand. In that advice they pointed out, amongst other things, that they were facing record levels of furloughing as a result of COVID and that they were also facing a number of bed blocks that were preventing them from allowing people to move through the healthcare system. Where did those bed blocks come from, do you think? They come from a former federal government that starved the national disability insurance scheme of appropriate funding and support that had people approved for packages. Over 200 Victorians are sitting in hospital today, including in Albury Wodonga Health, when they should be in their homes getting the care they need. In addition to that, there are about the same number of people who should be cared for in their aged care facilities but who have nowhere to go as a result of the former federal government refusing to implement the recommendations of its own royal commission. When you add all that together in terms of record demand, bed blocks and furloughing of staff—the very issues that the honourable member knows exist in his own health service, a world-class health service that we want to talk up rather than him talking it down—it is a really significant matter.

It is why this government is investing $12 billion in a pandemic recovery plan, including investment in infrastructure and including a business case, which is making its way through the normal government decision-making processes, as well as more staff—7000 more staff—to be either trained or recruited, including in Albury Wodonga Health, and better systems, including the coming together of different care and clinical plans, particularly in regional health centres that are so important not just to their own communities but the feeder communities and the smaller rural health services that feed into them. So I will not be talking down Albury Wodonga Health. I will be talking up Albury Wodonga Health and all the fantastic services that are delivered by our regional and community health services right across this great state.

Mr TILLEY (Benambra) (14:36): My supplementary is: it has now been months since the government was given the master plan for the future of Albury Wodonga Health. Why won’t the minister finally release this master plan, which details the requirements for an overdue new hospital for Albury-Wodonga?

Mr FOLEY (Albert Park—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services, Minister for Equality) (14:36): Can I thank the member for Benambra for his question. The honourable member is clearly confusing reports. I would refer the honourable member to perhaps the website of Albury Wodonga Health to get an understanding of the difference between a clinical report in terms of the model of care that is sought to be delivered by a health service versus a master plan and its consideration by the Victorian Health Building Authority. This is a government that has invested more in regional and rural health than any other government in the history of this state—certainly when it comes to those opposite, who cut, privatised and closed regional health services. This is a government that invests and will continue to invest in record amounts in our regional and rural health services. I look forward to the great hospital in Albury-Wodonga and that regional health service getting the support that this government will bring through the normal processes.