Rural and Regional Health

Minister’s statement

Ms MIKAKOS (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (12:30): I rise to update the house on what was an excellent health budget for rural and regional Victorians. It is almost like we are in sync here. To ensure regional communities get the emergency care when they need it most, the Andrews Labor government has invested nearly $300 million in our ambulance service to meet rising demand and support improved response times. This includes upgrading stations in Ocean Grove and Gisborne and recruiting more than 90 paramedics to support the upgrade of 15 dual-crew stations and the deployment of additional paramedics across regional and rural Victoria.

The Andrews Labor government has also committed $136 million over four years to provide an extra 500 000 specialist appointments for patients living in regional and rural communities. This means an extra 75 000 appointments for patients with heart conditions, 30 000 appointments for those struggling with arthritis, 50 000 appointments for Victorians with chronic pain and 40 000 appointments for patients with cancer. This year’s budget also invests $214 million to deliver Victoria’s largest ever parenting support package, establishing early parenting centres in the regional cities of Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong for the very first time. We are also expanding maternal and child health services accessible to rural and regional families, and it is only fitting that our dedicated and hardworking health staff have world-class facilities in which to do their life-saving work.

The Andrews Labor government is investing $60 million for a new day rehab centre at Bendigo Hospital. The project will bring together a range of rehabilitation services into a cutting-edge new facility. Regional health services will also benefit from $100 million boost to the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund, helping build the world-class facilities that rural and regional communities can count on. We are also starting important planning work for stage 3 of the Latrobe Regional Hospital and have funds at the ready for the Maryborough hospital redevelopment and the Geelong women’s and children’s hospital once they are shovel-ready.

The previous coalition government closed hospital beds and left thousands stuck on waiting lists. We are delivering first-class health care for all Victorians close to home, regardless of where they live.