Pressure on Warrnambool’s squeezed emergency department grows

Seeing first-hand: Health Minister Jill Hennessy toured the Warrnambool Base Hospital emergency department when she visited in December 2016.
Seeing first-hand: Health Minister Jill Hennessy toured the Warrnambool Base Hospital emergency department when she visited in December 2016.

The number of patients presenting at the squeezed emergency department at Warrnambool Base Hospital has continued to rise, fresh data shows.

Data covering the period from October to December last year showed a jump of 245, with 6522 patients attending.

The hospital has been waiting to get state government funding for stage two of an upgrade, with a masterplan drawn up in 2010.

The upgrade will involve the expansion of both the emergency department and operating theatres, short-stay unit and pathology and radiology block.

The emergency department was built in the 1990s and was designed to handle 15,000 patients per year, but during 2017 more than 25,000 patients presented at the department for treatment.

In last year’s budget the state government committed $7.5 million for planning and design works towards the upgrade.

The elective surgery waiting list for the hospital also grew from October to December 2016, the data showed.

The number of patients waiting for elective surgery grew from 744 on September 30 to 919 on December 31 last year.

South West Coast MP Roma Britnell called on the Labor government to match the Coalition’s commitment to fully upgrading Warrnambool Base Hospital.

“They’ve had almost four years and all they’ve done is delay the inevitable,” she said.

“We’ve known for years that operating theatres and the emergency department need to be modernised or upgraded, but we are still waiting as waiting lists grow.”

Warrnambool had the second-best ambulance response times in regional Victoria, while Moyne and Corangamite shires lagged.

Ambulance responses to code one incidents in Warrnambool took a median time of 8.4 minutes, which was only behind Horsham in country areas.

Moyne recorded a median of 16.9 minutes while Corangamite’s median score was 14.8 minutes.

Across the state, more code one ambulances were arriving within 15 minute call-out during the second quarter of this financial year compared with 76 per cent a year earlier.