19 March 2024

Victorian Government funding injection to help first virtual ED serve 1000 patients daily

| James Day
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Victoria’s Health Minister says with too many people unable to see their GP and a lack of bulk-billing doctors, the government’s investments are relieving pressure on hospitals. Photo: Mary-Anne Thomas MP/X.

The Victorian Government has put more than $235 million into the 24/7 Virtual Emergency Department (VVED) service in Melbourne’s north so it can grow to help more than 1000 people daily.

Since October 2020, the pilot program has been in the Northern Hospital at Epping, delivering free urgent care via video consultations to about 550 people every day. But when the service expanded throughout the state in April 2022, it’s estimated to have provided clinical assessments, medical advice, treatment and local referrals to more than 256,000 patients.

While the government still advises people to call triple zero or present to their closest emergency department in an emergency, Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the VVED service had helped 86 per cent of its patients avoid an unnecessary trip to hospital.

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Premier Jacinta Allan said the government was doubling the VVED’s capacity so more people could access the urgent care they needed from their own home – taking pressure off the state’s busy emergency departments.

Member for Thomastown Bronwyn Halfpenny, who represents the suburb 30 minutes away from Melbourne’s CBD, said: “Congratulations to our local Northern Hospital team who are delivering this innovative service – their hard work in designing and developing the VVED is improving care across the state and seeing real results.”

The funding boost will also support more direct referrals from aged care, paramedics in the field, primary health networks, the Nurse on Call service and self-referrals from the community.

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Victoria’s Labor Government has been overhauling the health sector, with the latest budget funding of $67 million to establish mental health services and another $10m for the planning of an additional 20 locations.

Last Friday, the state announced another service had opened in Whittlesea, along with a $223.5m upgrade of the Latrobe Regional Hospital. It also recorded a milestone of more than 300,000 visits to Victoria’s 29 Priority Primary Care Centres (PPCCs) since the rollout began in September 2022.

Those interested in accessing the VVED can find it online.

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