Victoria will invest $1.5 billion to address its growing elective surgery waitlist as part of a catch-up scheme that will see surgical capacity increased by one quarter.
The COVID Catch-Up Plan is designed to raise capacity to 125 per cent in 2023, with 40,000 additional surgeries to take place in the next year.
Victoria’s non-urgent surgery waitlists have blown out due to COVID-19 restrictions over the past two years.
Category two and three elective procedures were suspended in early January, with more than 80,000 people currently waiting.
“This plan will see record numbers of Victorians get the surgeries they need, while making sure our frontline workforce is supported,” Acting Premier James Merlino said on Sunday.
As part of the changes, 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 additional theatres will be completed by early next year to boost services at the hospital and provide more options for Victorians waiting for surgery.
Some $475 million will fund more activity in the public hospital system, including additional same-day surgeries, more twilight and after-hours work and theatre improvements.
Another $548 million will be invested in getting more public patients into private hospitals, with an extra 51,300 of them to receive elective surgery by June 2024.
Rapid surgery hubs
Eight rapid access hubs will be created at Melbourne public hospitals and in one regional centre for specific surgeries, including hernia repairs, cataract surgery and joint replacements.
The hubs will streamline surgical theatres, equipment and staffing and boost the number of surgeries performed each day.
More than 1000 nurses and theatre and sterilisation technicians will be upskilled and another 400 perioperative nurses trained. Additionally, 2000 highly-skilled healthcare workers will be recruited from overseas.
Another $20 million will be invested to ensure health services can upgrade surgical equipment and diagnostic machines.
Victoria had asked the federal government to fund half the state’s COVID-19 hospital costs. However, Mr Merlino said instead $1.5 billion had been cut from the health system.
It comes with the state also announcing $54 million to develop three new mental health support hubs for children and families.
A key recommendation from the royal commission into Victoria’s health system, they will house a range of specialists including paediatricians, psychologists, parenting support workers and speech pathologists.
Located in the southern Melbourne, Brimbank-Melton and Loddon areas, the hubs will begin providing care from July.
The state had 9008 COVID-19 cases and two deaths on Sunday. There were 307 patients in hospital, including 18 in intensive care.