VIC health system under flu surge pressure

Victoria’s entire health system is working together to tackle problems caused by one of its worst flu seasons.


Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today announced that selected private hospitals have agreed to accept public patients who need to be taken to hospital by ambulance.


Ambulance Victoria will play a key role in assessing patients, monitoring pressure points in public hospital emergency departments and deciding when it is appropriate to transport patients to private hospital emergency departments.


The temporary move is part of a longstanding arrangement, which in the past has seen private Intensive Care Units utilised in times of peak demand, and private hospital operating theatres take on extra work during elective surgery blitzes.


The arrangement sets agreed reimbursement levels for public patients and co-ordinates transfers back to the public system, when these are considered in the patient’s best interests. The participating private hospitals include: Cabrini in Malvern, and Epworth and St John of God in Geelong.


The state’s six Primary Health Networks, GPs, pharmacists, and key phone advice lines are also collaborating to support public hospital emergency departments and Ambulance Victoria to manage surging demand due to the current spike in flu notifications.


Hospitals have embarked on active social media campaigning to encourage people with less severe injuries and illnesses to seek advice and treatment through their family doctor, a pharmacist – including Victoria’s 24/7 Supercare Pharmacies – or NURSE-ON-CALL.


Experts still cannot confirm if the peak of the flu season has been reached as yet, so Victorians are reminded that it is not too late to get the flu shot. Around 800 people in Victoria die each year from influenza – the most of any communicable disease.


So far in 2017 there have been more than 13,000 confirmed cases of influenza in Victoria – with many more notifications still expected – in comparison to 7,365 at the same time last year.


Tomorrow, key health sector stakeholders will join the Minister for Health in a Ministerial Roundtable to ensure all measures are in place to meet current rising notifications and the resulting pressures on the health system. It will also consider what can be done to be even better prepared and coordinated during future flu seasons.


If you are unwell with the flu or a cold, avoid visiting loved ones in hospitals or aged care facilities, and stay home and rest if you can.


17 September 2017.