March 31, 2022

Yesterday, for the second time this month, Albury Wodonga Health announced a code yellow, and today Northeast Health Wangaratta went code yellow too. It’s a crisis. Right now on the border the hospital needs 50 more beds to keep up with continuous and unprecedented demand for emergency care. Doctors and nurses are stretched to their limit. Ambulances are lining up on the streets. Elective surgeries are being rescheduled. Patients are at risk of not getting urgent care. It’s totally unacceptable. Before COVID, the ED on the border averaged 160 patients a day. Now the average is around 200 and growing, and it won’t stop. The border population is due to grow by 30 per cent in the next 15 years, and what is this government doing about it? Barely a thing.

For months I’ve been standing with local doctors, nurses and patients, pushing this government to take some leadership, bring the New South Wales and Victorian governments to the table and commit $300 million in federal funds for a new hospital. Last month the Treasurer told me he would consider any proposal on its merits. Well, the merits are loud and clear, Treasurer. The $20 million promised for Albury Wodonga Health in the government’s so-called regional deal is paltry. Our health workers and patients in Indi don’t need empty promises of largesse that never arrives. We need hospital beds, and we need them today. This government must do better.

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