Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Health system


Health system

Mr McCURDY (Ovens Valley) (14:15): My question is to the Minister for Health. Seventy-two-year-old Estelle Shaw of Wangaratta was referred to the Alfred hospital in 2019 to have spacers put in her neck to stop pressure on her spine, which gives her next to no feeling in her hands. Ms Shaw was finally given a face-to-face meeting in January 2021 and was told she is now a category 2 patient. She was scheduled to have surgery within 90 days. Ms Shaw has had injections, blood tests and MRIs in preparation for her operation, yet three years later after her initial referral she still has not had the surgery she needs. Is a three-year wait by a 72-year-old woman in Wangaratta for category 2 surgery another example of what the Premier calls a world-class health system for regional Victorians?

Ms THOMAS (Macedon—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (14:16): Again, I express my concern for Estelle, and indeed if the member wishes to share details with me, I am very happy to follow up. I will not be commenting on individual cases right now, but I will take this opportunity to make a point: what we have seen from those opposite is a flip-flop on whether or not they are indeed going to deliver for the people of Victoria. There was a commitment of $8 billion to the people of regional Victoria from the member for Murray Plains. A couple of days later the Leader of the Opposition was on his feet saying, ‘No, it would not be delivered. There was no guarantee’. So what we have seen is we are already cutting funding to regional health services before they have even had the chance to start, just as they did when last they were in government.

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Deputy Premier! Leader of the Opposition! I ask you to come to order.

Ms THOMAS: Once again, I extend my offer to the member: if he wishes me to follow up the case of Estelle, then I am happy to do so. But I will make this point once again: it is rather embarrassing that a member of the National Party would be on their feet talking to us about rural and regional health care.

Mr McCURDY (Ovens Valley) (14:18): A category 2 surgery with a wait time of 90 days has for Estelle Shaw blown out to 1026 days, which is 11 times longer than the standard 90 days and nearly three years of waiting. Sadly she is not alone. Can the minister guarantee that with her catch-up plan Ms Shaw will have her surgery this year so that she can finally get some quality of life back again?

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: I call the Minister for Health, and I ask that the Minister for Health be heard in silence.

Ms THOMAS (Macedon—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (14:19): Thank you, Speaker. Once again, I extend my invitation to the member. If he wishes to or indeed if Estelle wishes her details to be shared with me to enable me to follow up and enquire what is happening, I am more than happy to do so.