Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Health system


Health system

Mr T BULL (Gippsland East) (14:07): My question is again to the Minister for Health. East Gippsland resident Cheryle Rickhuss requires two hip replacements. Her left hip has a category 2 classification, and her right hip is classified as category 3. At a recent consultation her surgeon warned that her surgery will likely be delayed at least 24 months due to the overwhelmed elective surgery waiting list. With a very limited range of pain-free movement and further degradation of her hips over this lengthy postponement, why is Cheryle being forced to endure two more years of pain because of Victoria’s broken health system?

Ms THOMAS (Macedon—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (14:08): I thank the member for his question, and I recognise the discomfort that is being experienced by Cheryle. Again, these are decisions that are made by clinicians, not politicians, and I think that is something that those on the other side often struggle to come to grips with. Cheryle is receiving care. She is taking advice from her general practitioner—indeed it may well be a specialist. Once again I make the point that our waitlists are actively managed by the health service in conjunction with the patient and indeed with the patient’s general practitioner.

I will make another point. Our government moved to make the data on wait times in our health service publicly available, unlike those on the other side, who always sought to hide health data wherever possible. I was really pleased to see that in the last quarter 41 468 patients were treated and that the waitlist had indeed stabilised. But that is not to pretend that there is not more to do, because our health system has seen unprecedented demand, like health systems right around the nation and indeed across the world.

But our government has a plan. We have a $1.5 billion catch-up plan, which is designed in conjunction with our healthcare workers. Not only have we purchased an additional 15 000 surgeries every single year, but we are doing everything to make sure that we are upskilling the workforce in order to help us grow the number of surgeries that can be delivered in our state by up to 240 000 by 2024. Only our government has a plan to address the waitlists.

Mr T BULL (Gippsland East) (14:10): Health department recommendations for category 2 procedures state they should be performed within 90 days, not two years. But Bairnsdale is one of a number of country hospitals whose waiting lists are not included in the statewide number of almost 90 000. How many other Victorians like Cheryle, who is waiting in pain for surgery, are not counted on the government’s official waiting list figures because their hospital waiting list figures are not included in that data?

Ms THOMAS (Macedon—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (14:11): Once again I make the point that our government provides the most transparent health data information, which makes sure that the Victorian community can see how our healthcare system is performing. This is in stark contrast to those on the other side, and it is interesting to me that the member for Gippsland East would get up and ask this question when we think about the 12 rural hospitals closed by the Liberals. They are about cuts and closures. They put patients—

Mr T Bull: On a point of order, Speaker, I would ask you to bring the minister back to answering the question, which related to how many people who are on waiting lists in hospitals that are not counted in official figures there are in Victoria. It is not an opportunity to take cheap shots. Answer the question.

The SPEAKER: Order! A point of order is not an opportunity to repeat the question, but I do ask the minister to come back to answering the question.

Ms THOMAS: I will make this point: our government has a $1.5 billion COVID catch-up plan in place to drive down elective surgeries for people in rural areas and metropolitan Melbourne. No-one will be left behind. We govern for all Victorians.