26 September 2023

Healthy new package to improve COVID services

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Victoria’s health system is to receive another kick along to ensure patients receive the quality care they need while the sector experiences record demands.

Announced by Premier Daniel Andrews, the additional measures come as the challenging flu season and emergence of the Omicron BA.5 variant cause combined surges in hospitals across the country.

Mr Andrews said a $162 million package of initiatives would be an ongoing plan to reinforce health services through winter.

“We’ll have more paramedics working alongside our nurses and doctors to get more support to Victorians who can be treated in their home,” Mr Andrews said, “plus the tools to get patients to get the best care in the right place if they need to go to hospital.”

He said the initiatives would deliver improvements to Ambulance Victoria’s operations to ensure patients were taken to hospital quickly and paramedics freed up to get back on the road faster.

Mr Andrews said the capacity of the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department is to be doubled to allow up to 500 patients at home each day have access to a video consultation with an emergency doctor or nurse.

“This includes paramedics connecting suitable patients to the program on scene for virtual assessment, management and referral,” the Premier said.

“[Initiatives include] expanding eligibility criteria for the Virtual Emergency Department so that people living in residential aged care facilities and everyone on the COVID Positive Pathways program can use the program – including supporting access to critical antiviral treatments.”

Mr Andrews said a new rostering pattern for advanced life support paramedic crews would be trialled across four ambulance service areas in metropolitan Melbourne to provide more flexible shift arrangements and optimise fleet availability.

He said also set for expansion were Ambulance Victoria’s Offload team going to a total of 14 major public hospitals, including six existing sites, to enable timely patient offload and support ambulance availability

The Premier said a new, near real-time data dashboard would be created to give paramedics and healthcare workers a better overview of system capacity to assist them in making local decisions that helped balance demand across the system.

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