Victoria’s health care system is struggling to cope with unprecedented demand with Premier Daniel Andrews warning residents.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has warned the state’s health care system will experience significant pressure in the coming weeks as it struggles with unprecedented demand.
It comes after fears Ambulance Victoria would have to enact a rare “Code Red plan”.
On Saturday night Ambulance Victoria averted a crisis after hospitals were put on notice that the service had “exhausted their ability to meet demand”, the Herald Sun reported.
It was expected a Code Red would be enacted shortly after a Code Orange was declared. However this was avoided due to “proactive steps” being taken including warning hospitals across the state of the crisis.
“While we expected demand to have a major impact on service delivery (on Saturday night), the proactive steps we took prevented the need for maximum escalation,” an Ambulance Victoria spokesman said on Sunday.
“The global Covid pandemic continues to have an unprecedented impact on health systems across Australia.
“Our paramedics and patient transport workers are working extremely hard to manage the increasing demand while prioritising care to the sickest Victorians.
“ … Everyone is completely overwhelmed.”
Mr Andrews echoed those concerns saying paramedics and hospital staff are dealing with what he described a “difficult gateway” as Victoria attempts to live with coronavirus.
“They are under very significant pressure, there’s no question about that,” he said.
“I would just ask every single Victorian, if it’s not an emergency, please don’t call triple-0. “There is a bit of pressure in the system at the moment.
“That will pass in time as both we see Covid demand come off and the benefits of our ongoing investment really kick in.”
The Department of Health reported 1173 new cases and nine deaths on Sunday, another decline. There are 16,413 active cases, with 568 Victorians being treated in hospital.
There are 96 Covid-19 patients in intensive care including 63 on ventilators.
However, the real number could be much higher with the health department under pressure to release the total number of patients in ICU after it was revealed only infectious patients are being reported in the daily virus numbers.
Victorian Ambulance Union secretary Danny Hill said at one stage over the weekend 70 people were unable to receive treatment from paramedics, amid a “perfect storm” of staff shortages and patient demand.
Recent government data showed there are thousands more Victorians ending up in hospital than there were at this time last year.
According to the data from the June to September quarter, there were 500,735 patients admitted to hospital.
That’s up more than 7000 on the three months prior, and almost 72,000 more admissions that during the same period a year earlier.
The length of time in hospital has also increased with 1.389 million bed days recorded, up by more than 164,000 from the previous year.
This comes amid concerns some protesters are determined to create “superspreader” events that could further overwhelm the state’s hospitals.
Thousands of people marched through Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday to fight vaccine mandates and proposed pandemic laws.
They have vowed to march every week until their demands are met.
At one point during Saturday’s demonstration, a man took to the stage to “thank” his “fellow superspreaders”, which was met with applause.
“Tomorrow the hospitals will be full,” he said.
Victoria’s state government is hoping a funding boost will help the health system cope.
“A new package of $307 million in our people, in our systems and in our responses to get us through this global pandemic and to make sure our public health system, our hospitals and our ambulance services, are able to deal with the demands that they are under,” Martin Foley, Victoria’s Health Minister, told Sky News.
Mr Foley admitted the worst is still ahead, with predictions the state could have as many as 1300 coronavirus patients in hospital by January.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) issued a warning that the situation was about to get worse for the nation’s hospitals.
Upon the release of the AMA’s Public Hospital Report Card 2021, Australian Medical Association President, Dr Omar Khorshid said the data shows that even during the 2020 lockdowns, hospitals were still overwhelmed despite having dramatically reduced patient volumes.
“What’s remarkable about this year’s report card is it shows hospitals continued to struggle in 2020 when Australians stayed home, and we weren’t dealing with the highly contagious Delta variant or high Covid-19 hospitalisations,” Dr Khorshid said.
“What we had was a once in a generation event – a dramatic reduction in hospitalisation from accidents, injuries and illness.
“But what it revealed was that, unless we do something dramatic to help our hospitals, this is as ‘good as it gets’ when it comes to hospital performance for Australians.
“Since the data in this report card was collected, volumes have not only returned to normal, but grown, and we will continue to have Covid-19 on top of it.
“‘Good as it gets’ is about to get much worse.”