Question without notice
My question is for the Minister for Health.
Minister, can you tell me how many beds will be dedicated to the needs of children in the new paediatric ward designed as part of the redevelopment of Goulburn Valley Health?
Constituents in my electorate are delighted by the redevelopment of Goulburn Valley Health announced in the last budget, but they are concerned that there is no clarity around the number of beds that will be provided for children.
Minister, you will be aware that I chair the Goulburn Valley Health community advisory committee. Even we do not know how many beds there will be; we have not been told. News reports are circulating about concern in relation to the number of beds for children. There is a very significant reduction in the number being touted at the moment. Minister, our community needs to know how many beds we will have. We need a decision on this issue, and we need it now as the design phase has passed.
Ms Hennessy, Minister for Health
I thank the member for her question, and is it not refreshing to see the wonderful advocacy occurring in Shepparton when it comes to the healthcare needs there? We were delighted to make an investment to redevelop the Goulburn Valley hospital up at Shepparton. We know that its infrastructure is not currently fit for purpose, and we know that it has not been configured in respect of the actual medical needs and right models of care. We are also delighted to invest in the rebuilding of the Waranga Aged Care Hostel. All these things were ignored for four years under the previous government.
The member makes a really important point, and that is the need for her local community to have clarity and certainty around the number of paediatric beds. I confirm for the member that there will be at least 12 dedicated paediatric beds, and on top of that of course there is dedicated space in the emergency department for paediatric treatment. There is also some terrific work being done in the design around the integration of women’s and children’s needs.
I am more than happy to provide the member and her community with that clarity in whatever form provides assurance and to continue to ensure that her community has great confidence in this wonderful project that is delivering great jobs and is absolutely demonstrating to the community of Shepparton that they made the right choice at the last election.
The existing children’s ward has a capacity to facilitate the hospitalisation of up to 26 children in a crisis situation. We are being warned about future pandemics. Can the minister advise what capacity Goulburn Valley Health will have to provide appropriate hospital services for children — and it is a remote area in some ways — where an epidemic might occur, where there might be an outbreak of bronchiolitis or influenza such as has occurred in the past and in circumstances where the hospital that has been able to cope, because of those numbers of beds?
I thank the member for the supplementary question. I assure the member that there will be a minimum surge capacity for 26 and possibly more. Given the fact that we are growing the number of beds, we are growing the number of operating theatres, we are growing the number of inpatient units and we are growing every component of that hospital, in terms of the capacity to meet surge, should there be a case around influenza and should that have a particular paediatric frame, the hospital is being built and designed for that purpose.
I also use this opportunity to reflect and to thank the wonderful staff at Goulburn Valley and Ambulance Victoria who yesterday responded to a very tragic bus accident in which one person died. A number of patients were treated at Goulburn Valley, and two patients were transferred to the best trauma hospitals in Victoria. I want to place on record our government’s appreciation for the work they did yesterday.