Drug funds pledged for Bendigo Health

BENDIGO Health will receive extra drug and alcohol support after the state government pledged $500,000 in funding.

Minister for Metal Health Mary Wooldridge made the announcement as she visited the hospital’s emergency department yesterday afternoon.

She said the money would enable the employment of additional specialist staff and help to tackle drugs such as ice.

“Right across the state there are issues in relation to how our emergency departments operate and people repeatedly presenting with alcohol and drug issues,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“So the Coalition government is investing in emergency departments to have specialised staff who can deal with people who are substance affected and make sure they’re accessing the treatment and it also frees up the emergency department for people who need other sorts of treatment.”

Ms Wooldridge said the initiative would provide Bendigo Health’s emergency department staff with better support for the identification, management and treatment of people who are intoxicated or drug affected. 

“I think it means for people who have challenges with drug or alcohol consumption, family members who may be affected by it, that they’re going to get better access to care,” she said.

Ms Wooldridge said drug and alcohol-affected patients placed considerable pressure on hospitals.

“This initiative aims to achieve a long-term decrease in the number of people with alcohol and drug issues being re-admitted to emergency departments, and better use of referral pathways for patients to receive the best and most appropriate care, whether in a hospital or a community setting.”

Bendigo Health is one of 21 emergency departments across the state to receive four-year funding under the Coalition government’s recently released report, Reducing the alcohol and drug toll: Victoria’s plan 2013-2017.

Bendigo Health’s director of emergency Dr Diana Badcock said the funding would allow for the employment of dedicated staff to follow-up patients with alcohol and drug issues in hospital, in the community, in their home and in schools.

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