My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health in the other place, and the action that I seek is that the minister respond to question on notice 2303, which I lodged for response some 92 days ago. In press releases dated 15 March and 1 April the Minister for Health spoke at length about the Andrews government’s intention to boost the available number of hospital beds across Victoria in order to adequately prepare for the potential onset of coronavirus. To this end, my question explicitly sought assurances from the minister that funding would be provided to ensure that the number of beds and effective full-time staff at my local community hospital, being Sandringham Hospital, would increase to at least what it was before the closure of ward G3 late last year.
Noting that more than 30 per cent of the Sandringham district’s residents are deemed to be at high risk of contracting and severely suffering from coronavirus, I pre-emptively asked this question of the minister as a matter of the highest priority for public health within the Sandringham district. As yet, disappointingly, not only does Sandringham Hospital not have extra beds, the members of my community do not have even so much as a response from the minister as to why our community hospital was left without additional capacity in the face of potentially extreme danger to public health.
What makes this even more galling in my view is the minister’s continued failure to provide Alfred Health with the funding that is required to permanently—not temporarily, but permanently—replace the eight beds and seven effective full-time nursing positions that were lost at the Sandringham Hospital when ward G3 closed last year. This is in spite of a community petition with more than 8000 signatures and the multiple letters, questions on notice and parliamentary contributions that I have made on behalf of the many residents who rely on the outstanding services provided at our local hospital.
Whilst the minister’s lack of action has spoken louder frankly than any words ever could, that does not mean that my community does not deserve an answer, and that is what I am seeking from the minister tonight.