Building A Health System Victorians Can Rely On

The Andrews Labor Government is improving, innovating and investing in Victoria’s health system to ensure Victorians can get the care they need, when they need it.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy has today provided the Government’s response to the Travis Review, the most comprehensive audit ever undertaken into the capacity of Victoria’s hospitals.

In conducting the Review, respected surgeon and former AMA Victoria President Dr Doug Travis was asked to recommend strategies to improve the capacity of Victoria’s public hospitals. The Government has accepted all of the recommendations of the Travis Review.

In his Interim Report in April, and Final Report released today, Dr Travis notes that as a result of a growing and ageing population there will be increased pressure on the health system. However, he found there is a mismatch in some areas between the available capacity of public hospitals and local patient demand.

Dr Travis recommends better informed and longer-term planning to ensure the State’s resources are best utilised, and more innovative service delivery in order to make the most of existing hospital capacity.

In line with Dr Travis’ recommendations, the Government will establish Better Care Victoria to drive improvements in patient care and treatment.

Better Care Victoria, supported by the Better Care Victoria: Innovation Fund, will assess initiatives, scale up proven innovations, and facilitate the sharing of ideas to increase hospital capacity across the entire Victorian health system.

As part of his Interim Report in April, Dr Travis provided the Government with recommendations about how the $200 million Hospital Beds Rescue Fund could be allocated.

These recommendations were adopted in full and, in the 2015-16 Victorian Budget, the Government provided additional funding to open 101 beds and points of care at hospitals across the State. Already, 61 extra beds and points of care are open, with the remainder to be opened within the next 6 months. These extra 101 new beds and points of care will enable hospitals to treat more than 19,800 extra patients every year.

The Travis Review also recommended the development of a Statewide Strategic Services and Infrastructure Plan to address the current mismatch of hospital capacity and infrastructure to patient demand.

The Government has begun work on developing this Plan, which will have a 20-year outlook, and a particular focus on the immediate future. This provides a significant opportunity to set the future direction and strategy for the Victorian health system.

It will include the development and promotion of a set of core principles to re-build and re-shape Victoria’s health system, and achieve a better balance between community-based and hospital-based services into the future.

The first Statewide Strategic Services and Infrastructure Plan will be published in 2017.

The Travis Review also recommended greater publication of performance data of hospital and outpatient clinics to drive improvement.

The Andrews Labor Government is committed to being open and transparent about the performance of the entire health system, from waiting times for treatment in emergency departments, to elective surgery, to appointments at specialist clinics.

The Department of Health and Human Services has today published the Specialist Clinics Activity and Wait Time Report for the quarter to 30 June 2015, which lists median waiting times for 14 public specialist surgical clinics such as cardiothoracic, ear nose and throat, gastroenterology, gynaecology, neurology, oncology and orthopaedics.

It shows there were more than 278,000 specialist clinic consultations delivered by 17 public health services in the quarter. Of these, around 52,000 were new referrals and 226,000 were follow-up appointments.

However, the median wait time for a first appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist at one health service was 469 days, while another was just 31 days – a clear demonstration of the need to improve how Victoria’s health services interact and work collaboratively to achieve better patient outcomes.

The Victorian Health Services Performance Report for the June quarter, also released today, shows Victoria’s public hospitals are continuing to treat record numbers of patients, while also reducing elective surgery waiting lists for the first time since September last year.

Victoria’s hospitals admitted almost 416,000 patients between April and June this year – nearly 16,000 more compared with the same period last year. Emergency department demand has increased by 2.1 per cent, with 402,668 presentations between April and June this year. The number of people treated within targets remained stable at 77 per cent.

Appropriately, the sickest patients continue to be treated first, with 100 per cent of category one patients seen immediately. The number of patients spending more than 24 hours in emergency has fallen dramatically from 204 to 57.

Despite increasing demand, most patients are getting their elective surgery on time. Overall, 87 per cent of all elective surgery patients were treated within time compared with 84 per cent in the same period last year. As of 30 June, there were 40,734 people waiting for elective surgery, and, in the Budget, the Government provided $60 million to enable an extra 11,700 elective surgeries in order to reduce the waiting list.

With a growing and ageing population, there is widespread consensus that there needs to be reform of how health is funded and delivered by all levels of government.

The Abbott Government’s $17.7 billion in funding cuts to Victoria’s public hospitals over the next decade means it’s crucial to reduce the number of avoidable hospital admissions. The Victorian and Tasmanian Governments are leading the development of national health reforms for COAG, to build a strong, sustainable and efficient health system for the future.

The Minister today announced that a Victorian Health Reform Summit will be held on Friday 18 September 2015, bringing together around 100 health sector experts to progress the development of the Statewide Strategic Services and Infrastructure Plan, and to discuss challenges facing the health system, locally and nationally.

The Final Report of the Travis Review can be found at www.health.vic.gov.au/travis. The Victorian Health Services Performance Report and Specialist Clinics Activity and Wait Time Report can be found at performance.health.vic.gov.au.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“The Andrews Labor Government is absolutely committed to helping Victorians access the care they need, when they need it, closer to home.”

“It’s clear from the Travis Review that we need to do things differently to ensure our health system is able to cope with increasing demand as a result of our ageing and growing population.”

“Individual health services are leading the way in delivering successful projects to improve patient outcomes and reduce waiting times. We want to take these innovations and apply them across the system so all Victorians can benefit.”