QUESTION WITHOUT NOTICE | HEALTH FUNDING

Mr Melhem (Western Metropolitan) – My question is to the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services. Could the minister please outline how the Andrews Labor government is ensuring Victorians have access to high-quality, affordable public health care?

5 February 2019

Response

Ms MIKAKOS (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) – I thank Mr Melhem for his question. Ms Shing makes an absolutely correct point that they have made that critical decision to re-elect the Andrews Labor government. That is a significant decision that the people of Victoria have made, because they know that it is only Labor that has a vision and the plan to ensure that we have a world-leading health system here in Victoria. This is why we will continue to invest in our hospitals—because we want to ensure that every Victorian has access to quality health care wherever they live. Last term we invested $3.2 billion in health capital, double the amount the Liberals did when they were last in government, and we have no intention of slowing down. We have a massive pipeline of projects, almost $3.8 billion worth, which will continue to drive improvements in our health and ambulance performance. I know that the member is a fierce advocate for the western suburbs. I want to assure him that we are getting on with the task of building a $1.5 billion new 504-bed Footscray hospital for Melbourne’s west. The new Footscray Hospital will cut waiting times and allow almost 15 000 additional patients to be treated each year. It will allow up to 17 000 western suburbs residents to be redirected from inner-city hospitals, taking pressure off other Melbourne hospitals. We are also ensuring that people get access to world-class health care in other parts of our state. We promised that we would expand the Frankston Hospital’s emergency department, and we have, with 12 new short-stay emergency beds now open. More people are choosing, of course, to make Frankston their home, and we have a huge baby boom there. That is why we have committed $562 million to transform Frankston Hospital, with 102 new hospital beds, two new operating theatres and an additional 13 new emergency department beds. We will also deliver a massive expansion of our child and maternal health services to meet growing demand from families in the south-eastern suburbs, including a new maternity ward, obstetrics ward, women’s clinic, paediatric ward and special care nursery. We are also making sure that our kids get the support that they need right across our state. I am very proud that we are going to get on with building dedicated flagship children’s emergency departments at Geelong, Maroondah, Frankston, Casey and the northern suburbs. This investment will see existing emergency departments reconfigured or expanded so that children and their families can have their own dedicated space and staff when they need it most. Of course we are also going to give kids access to free public dental through our public school system, and that is going to be a significant expansion and investment in our public dental system, bringing back the school dental vans that disappeared so long ago. We are going to get on and build or refurbish nine new early parenting centres to deliver a range of critical services to ensure that parents get the support that they need and make sure that we can particularly support new parents with sleeping and feeding issues. We are making sure that regional Victoria gets the support that it needs as well. We have committed $100 million to transform the Maryborough hospital into a world-class hospital, and we are delivering more acute medical beds and acute surgery beds, other operating theatres and more consultation rooms to make sure that local families there can get peace of mind and the support that they need. There will be a $100 million boost to the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund so that even more regional health services can build new facilities or complete the upgrades that they need. This is building on the landmark $250 million investment that we made in our first term of government. Time does not permit me to answer the member’s question in terms of the full range of initiatives that our government will commit to, but what I can say to the member and what I can assure the house is that this government will repair the damage done by the coalition government and by the federal coalition government. We will keep investing in Victoria’s health system and make sure that people get the support of a world-class health system in Victoria.

5 February 2019