Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Health system


Health system

Ms STALEY (Ripon) (14:28): My question is to the Minister for Health. Maureen from West Wodonga has multiple spinal conditions and totally relies on her husband to assist her with personal care and undertake routine household tasks. She lives with chronic debilitating pain and has poor mobility. She was listed on 3 September 2021 as being a category 2 patient. Earlier this year she came from Wodonga to Melbourne to have extensive medical tests in preparation for surgery, but now that her surgery has been delayed for a year she has had to repeat all of these extensive medical tests. After the second time of extensive medical preparation and repeated cancellation of her operation, can the minister guarantee that Maureen will finally get the surgery that she so desperately needs?

Ms THOMAS (Macedon—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (14:29): I thank the member for Ripon for her question. Indeed as members in this place know, I know Wodonga well and I know that Maureen will be receiving the very best health care from Albury Wodonga Health and that the clinicians who are responsible for making each and every one of these decisions will be doing their best to address her healthcare needs. I need to make this point again; I seem to need to make it every time I get on my feet. Let us be very clear: this year has been the hardest in our healthcare system—a fact that seems to be completely ignored by those on the other side. At points during this year we saw up to 2000 healthcare workers on any given day furloughed with COVID, a fact that those on the other side, who have tried to pretend that COVID does not even exist, have conveniently ignored—the very same people, I might say, who stood on the steps of Parliament with the conspiracy theorists. I mean, it is really disgraceful.

Once again I note a question from the member for Ripon. The member for Ripon will well remember that it was a Liberal government that closed the hospital in Clunes in her electorate. Where was the voice of those Liberals there and then when healthcare services in rural and regional Victoria were being closed? Once again, if the member would like to share the details, and if her constituent would like to share details with me, I will follow that up for her.

Ms STALEY (Ripon) (14:31): How many other Victorians have had multiple rounds of preoperative testing, putting strain on already overstretched resources, only to be told that due to long delays with elective surgery they would need to have these tests repeated?

Ms THOMAS (Macedon—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (14:31): Our government has in place a $1.5 billion COVID catch-up plan for planned surgeries, and our ambition is that we will increase the number of planned surgeries that are delivered every year to 225 000 by 2025—sorry, 240 000 by 2025, so indeed we will continue to implement our plan. We will upskill our workforce because it is clinicians who will deliver the surgery. We will make sure that we have the doctors and nurses in place. This year has been very, very challenging in our healthcare service—as it has been right around the nation and indeed around the world—but we will not be lectured by those on the other side. When they had the opportunity they went to war with our workforce and closed more hospitals than they opened.