LONG-SUFFERING Bendigo patients will finally have their elective surgeries under a billion dollar catch-up plan announced by the state government yesterday.
With the installation of 8 new elective surgery hubs this year, the plan aims to exceed pre-pandemic levels of elective procedures by 25 per cent.
The 1.5 billion dollar investment will see 40,000 extra surgeries in the next year, building up to record 240,000 surgeries every year in 2024.
The state government will fund the hospital package alone after the federal government decided not to include a provision in last week's budget.
"The Prime Minister said he would pay half the costs for Covid-related care in our hospitals, so our nurses and doctors had what they needed to look after people during the pandemic," said acting premier James Merlino.
"Now, he's cutting $1.5 billion out of our health system when patients need it most."
Frankston Private Hospital will be transformed into a public surgery centre with capacity to support up to 9000 public patients per year from 2023. Two new theatres will boost services from early next year and provide more surgery options.
Across the wider network, $475 million will ensure additional same-day surgeries, more twilight and after-hours work and theatre improvements.
Another $548 million will help get more public patients into private hospitals, with an extra 51,300 of them to receive elective surgery by June 2024.
Eight new 'Rapid Access Hubs' will be established across the state to perform specific surgeries such as hernia repairs, joint replacements and cataract surgeries.
The first eight hubs will be established in the next year at St Vincent's on the Park, Broadmeadows Hospital, Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Royal Women's Hospital, Werribee Mercy Hospital, Sandringham Hospital, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and one in regional Victoria with details to be confirmed shortly.
While Bendigo Health could not confirm whether one would be set up in the regional city, director Bob Cameron said either way the hospital would be increasing its elective procedure capacity.
"We have the ability and the resources now to do it," he said, "so that's definitely something we'll be looking at."
Deputy Opposition leader David Southwick said the funding should have been announced two years ago.
"It is simply not good enough for the government now to promise more money when they should have done it in the first place," he told reporters.
The hubs will be accompanied by renewed surgical facilities, thanks to a $20 million surgical investment providing health services with the latest medical technologies.
The department of health will also appoint a new Chief Surgical Adviser to oversee the Surgery Recovery Taskforce's operations.
With Australian Associated Press (AAP)
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