While the Andrews Labor Government tries to paint a rosy picture of healthcare during the second lockdown, the quarterly performance data finally released by the Victorian Agency for Health Information (VAHI), show that patients with non-life-threatening illness are staring down long waits for access to treatment.
The number of Victorians waiting for Category 3 elective surgery has increased 53 per cent compared to this time last year, with almost 36,000 people now waiting. The median wait time for Category 3 elective surgery has more than doubled to 138 days, while more than 10 per cent of patients are now waiting longer than clinically recommended for treatment. On the other hand, 10 per cent of Victorians seeking a first specialist appointment are now waiting well for 407 days. That’s 146 days longer than at this time last year.
The fact that some patients are waiting more than a year for these appointments has, and will continue to put Victorian’s health and wellbeing at risk—potentially leading to future complications.
The Andrews Labor Government must do more to reduce the elective surgery backlog following its suspension earlier this year. Category 3 surgery includes orthopaedic procedures such as hip and knee replacements, and without stronger government action, Victorians will be waiting longer in pain and agony.
The VAHI data also reveals long waits for mental health patients seeking treatment in an emergency department, as well as a concerning increase in the use of restraints on elderly patients and seclusions on young people.
One in two patients who seek mental health treatment in an emergency department waited longer than eight hours for admission during the last quarter, significantly worse than the previous quarter, and a figure that is demonstrative of the ongoing failure under Labor to provide timely mental health care.
The increasing use of physical restraints and seclusions, which involves the locking of a psychiatric patient in a secure room, are a particular cause for concern. The data shows a 32 per cent increase in the use of restraints on elderly patients compared to last year and an increase of 11 per cent on last quarter. The seclusion rate for child and adolescent mental health has dropped from a historic high but remains elevated at a rate 55 per cent higher than this time last year.