My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health, and the action I seek is that the minister accompany me on a visit to the emergency department of Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton.
Our emergency department has only 11 treatment spaces; it needs 30.
Late this afternoon my husband, who is a visiting medical officer at Goulburn Valley Health, told me that the pressure will be so great tonight that doctors will be asked to discharge patients where safe to do so and avoid admissions where they can be avoided.
The reason is the overwhelming demand on the emergency department.
On 5 October at 8.30 a.m. a school bus carrying 47 secondary college students between Nagambie and Euroa was involved in a collision with a truck. While it was reported that no students suffered life-threatening injuries, eight of the children had to be taken to Goulburn Valley Health for treatment. With only 11 treatment spaces and a high demand in the emergency department, it is easy to see the pressure this places on that department and its staff. In saying this, however, I have been advised that the emergency department staff coped amazingly well in what were clearly difficult and cramped circumstances. I congratulate them for the work they did on this occasion and on every other day they are faced with such limited facilities.
Works are currently being undertaken on this 24-hour emergency service to provide some more waiting area space for families with children and a separate treatment area for children. All of the funding for these works has come from philanthropic organisations including the GV Health Foundation, local Rotary clubs and the Blue Ribbon Foundation, to name but a few. Funding for the redevelopment of Goulburn Valley Health has been neglected for years, and there appears to have been an extraordinary lack of political commitment to our health service. The Goulburn Valley Health annual report tabled in the Victorian Parliament in the last sitting week says the number of people living in the catchment area who receive services from the hospital is at a low of 73 per cent. That means that over one-quarter of the people needing treatment in the area must find it outside the region. There is a 10-year plan to increase the number of people receiving treatment to 86 per cent. However, there is a need for infrastructure and support to provide the ongoing services.
I am pleased to say that we are soon to announce the membership of the Goulburn Valley Health Community Advisory Group and I look forward to working with GV Health, the Department of Health and Human Services and the government to achieve an investment in the much-needed and long overdue redevelopment of Goulburn Valley Health.