Tuesday, 7 February 2023


Albury Wodonga Health

Albury Wodonga Health

Bill TILLEY (Benambra) (19:13): (13) I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Health. The action I seek is for the minister to provide an immediate solution to the crisis with beds and emergency presentations at Albury Wodonga Health. If that sounds familiar, it certainly should. It is the same question I asked in May, along with all the other correspondence, letters and emails that I have been putting through. Minister, you blamed COVID, albeit when you finally got around to replying five months later. People see through that. They call it for what it is, but I am not permitted to be able to use that common language in this place.

In late October you announced a staged plan to do a reno on the Albury campus. It will never be enough and frankly does nothing for the present crisis. In the past three months my office has been buried by horror stories, and I will give you some examples: a 10-day wait to fix a broken arm; a 79-year-old stuck in the ambulance while her family desperately searched for hospital wards, with ridiculous waits in emergency – the list is endless. All these are being addressed by the health service but still need to be raised here, and it is simply not good enough.

Victoria is the worst state in the nation for health, with the lowest level of available beds in public hospitals, fewer healthcare staff than all bar South Australia and emergency waiting times way above the national average. Tell me what I say to 83-year-old Jean Dudley, who waited 7 hours to be seen in emergency after a fall at home. She fell three times in the day after being sent home with some pain pills but told her son, ‘I’ll never go back to that place’. Wendy Hodgkin waited 3 hours with appendicitis. She could not be transferred for surgery from the Wodonga campus because there were no beds in the surgical wards over in Albury. Amy Carmody’s daughter Bailey was also admitted for appendicitis. She spent two days in hospital fasting, with promised and repeatedly deferred surgery. When she finally got to the table, the cause of the pain was found to be something completely different. Jess from Dartmouth suffered perianal abscesses in 2019. That led to complications and sepsis. There is surgery that will stop her repeated visits to emergency to treat the pain and the infections, but here we are in 2023, four years later, and Jess is still waiting. Jess got a call from the hospital last week just to see if she still needed the surgery. I think they were hoping that she had paid for private health and the problem had all gone away. But, no, Jess is still waiting – waiting for the backlog to clear. This is a category 1 surgery.

Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up, and it just goes on and on. What do you think the stories will be like when the emergency department and the wards are a construction zone for part of the reno at Albury base? Yes, you might reply, and turn around and say ‘New South Wales are involved in it’, but it is simply not good enough for the border region of Albury–Wodonga.