Promised intensive care beds vanish
28 September 2021
Serious questions have been raised about the capacity of the region’s hospitals to deal with an anticipated increase in COVID cases.
Member for Euroa and Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan says the 4000 additional ICU beds promised by the Andrews Government eighteen months ago have not materialised.
“I am gravely concerned that the Andrews Government has left our region underprepared for an increase in COVID cases,” Ms Ryan said.
“In April 2020, the then Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the government would spend $1.3 billion to deliver 4000 intensive care beds, to bring the state’s total to 4500.
“When we questioned the government as to the status of those extra beds in Parliament last sitting week, Martin Foley admitted ICU beds were “up and running now at the 400 mark” – nowhere near the 4000 promised by the Premier 18 months ago.
“According to figures released by the Federal Government last week Victoria has just 437 ICU beds.
“The 4000 intensive care beds promised by the Andrews Government have not been delivered and no one has explained what has happened to the $1.3 billion earmarked to deliver them.”
Ms Ryan said the Andrews Government needed to urgently explain what additional capacity had been put in place across the region’s major hospitals.
“Shepparton has eight ICU beds while Wangaratta and Albury have six each,” Ms Ryan said.
“Additional beds need to be put in place at major regional hospitals like Shepparton, Bendigo and Wangaratta to ensure the region has the capacity to cope an increase in serious cases.
“The community has borne the brunt of lockdown after lockdown, ostensibly to give the state government time to increase the capacity of the health system.
“The government has betrayed the community by failing to increase the capacity of intensive care as it promised.
“It isn’t just leaving us exposed, but it is also keeping us locked down for longer.”
Fast Facts – Andrews and Mikakos on ICU beds
Mikakos: "So this package will pay for the biggest expansion of Victoria's intensive care capacity in Victoria's history. We currently have about 450, about 500 intensive care beds in Victoria and now we are going to fund another 4000 intensive care beds taking us to a total of 4,500.”
Andrews: "I don't rule out, Melbourne Convention Centre, I don’t rule out, the Exhibition Buildings, whatever it might be, a really big space, and I've been asked a few times, I'm not confirming that today, but certainly don’t rule out building something that is a standalone conversion of a big space into what would be one of the biggest intensive care units in our country, perhaps anywhere in the world.”
Journalist: "It was April last year that former Minister Mikakos announced 4000 extra beds will be coming online, do you know how many have been delivered since then?"
Andrews: "No, no hang on a minute, she never, no hang on, that is not what she announced. The notion we are going to have 4000 beds, down at, you know, a warehouse somewhere, turn the Exhibition Building into an ICU unit and then have a nurse at the foot of those beds practicing hospital corners, like no, that’s not how it works."