Vic govt continues hospital cash splash

·3-min read

More than 85,000 extra patients would have access to medical treatment and an estimated 3000 jobs would be created under a new $1 billion Victorian government hospital plan.

Premier Daniel Andrews said upgrades to hospitals in Melbourne's north, including Austin Hospital at Heidelberg and Northern Hospital at Epping, would give greater access to high-quality services amid the state's healthcare crisis.

"Our healthcare workers go above and beyond to provide the very best care to Victorians and they deserve the very best modern infrastructure to match," he said on Tuesday.

The proposal includes an expansion of emergency departments at both hospitals and extra beds at the Northern by 2028.

There are more than 109,000 presentations at the Northern's emergency department annually and more than 88,000 at the Austin.

Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the upgrades were necessary to keep up with demand.

If Labor is re-elected in November, between $250 million and $300 million will go towards supporting an extra 30,000 emergency patients at the Austin, with 29 extra emergency treatment spaces.

An estimated $770m to $855m will create up to 70 extra treatment spaces at the Northern in addition to a new tower with more than 100 in-patient beds.

Mr Andrews did not rule out raising taxes to pay for the spend, adding the pledges would be consolidated into a funded plan to be presented to parliament.

Shadow treasurer David Davis said the premier's hospital plan was a delayed reaction.

"It is clear that after eight years ... the government has now realised there is a huge problem in our health system," he said.

Industry peak body, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, said staff shortages were a growing concern as the health system continued to buckle under pressure.

"We are eager to see further information on the planned implementation of the investment, particularly in relation to workforce and timelines," ACEM Victoria Faculty Chair Dr Belinda Hibble said.

The healthcare promise follows the government's announcement on Sunday to rebuild the Maroondah Hospital and rename it after Queen Elizabeth II.

The Greens introduced an upper house motion on Tuesday to reverse the decision amid public backlash over replacing the Indigenous name.

"What is Labor thinking changing the name of a hospital from a First Nations word to the name of a foreign monarch representing colonisation?" Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said.

"It is a disrespectful decision that erases precious Woiwurrung language. This is not what treaty looks like. If this government is serious about treaty it would listen to First Nations communities and act now, not later."

Mr Andrews stood by his decision, despite criticism from Indigenous leaders including Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, who called it an insult.

"It's a brand new hospital and it's going to get a brand new name, and it's going to be absolutely fantastic," Mr Andrews said.

The Greens have meanwhile submitted an amendment to the Legislative Council on a government bill that would introduce mandatory pre-commitments at Crown Casino, to extend the reforms across the state.

Over the 2021/22 financial year, Victorians lost more than $2.2 billion on pokies, with the average Victorian losing about $2800.