Victorian hospital beds flatline despite Coalition promise

Victorian hospital beds flatline despite Coalition promise

The number of acute public hospital beds in Victoria flatlined in the years after the Coalition government's first two budgets despite its promise to create 300 new beds over that period, new figures show.

Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released on Wednesday show there were an average 13,449 acute beds available in Victorian public hospitals in 2012-13, down 25 beds from the previous year.

But Health Minister David Davis said these did not include additional beds created in Victoria over that time, including hospital-in-the-home beds, prevention and recovery beds for mentally ill patients and sub-acute beds including for geriatric patients to recover after an operation.

Mr Davis said the number of those beds had increased by 189 over the same period, which meant that, together with the institute's data, the total number of beds would have increased by 164.

The Coalition government promised to add 800 new hospital beds in Victoria over four years during the 2010 election campaign. It included a commitment to add 100 beds in 2011-12, followed by 200 in 2012-13, 200 in 2013-14 and 300 in 2014-15.


Australian Medical Association state president Stephen Parnis said the lack of new beds meant operations were cancelled and waiting times extended.

''Because of this, there are too many Victorians waiting a clinically unacceptable time for surgery. Since the government was elected in 2010, the elective surgery waiting lists have grown by more than 10,000 patients. These patients need hospital beds,'' he said.

Dr Parnis said the government needed to release full details of hospital beds in Victoria, including a list of all opened and closed from when it took office in November 2010.

‘‘The government was elected on the commitment to introduce 800 news beds in their first term and they must release a full list of these beds to the Victoria public,'' he said.

‘‘Without a full list of hospital beds detailing type and location, the only data we have to assess is the nationally accepted AIHW report.''

Dr Parnis said he did not regard some of the additional beds cited by Mr Davis as true new hospital beds.

"We define a hospital bed as a suitably located and equipped bed, chair, trolley or cot where the necessary and human resources are provided for admitted patient care. While hospital in the home is an important care option, these services cannot replace inpatient hospital beds,’’ he said.

The state government on Tuesday announced $73 million for a second stage of redevelopment at LaTrobe Regional Hospital. Mr Davis said it would provide an extra 30-bed ward and double the capacity of the existing emergency department.

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