BETTER ACCESS TO HOSPITALS, AMBULANCES, DOCTORS & DENTISTS
Making it easier to see a doctor and easing pressure on our hospitals
The pandemic highlighted the significant gaps for people getting the healthcare they need, whether it is needing a hospital bed, seeing a GP, or going to the dentist.
For too long health workers have been undervalued, underpaid and pushed to work in exhausting conditions.
We can help Victorians get the healthcare they need by making it easier for people to see a free GP or community nurse, by freeing up hospital beds, investing in preventative care and giving our hard-working public health workers better pay.
The Greens' plan would fund the community health sector to employ GPs and nurses to provide primary care in the most under-served parts of Victoria.
Most medical wards hold patients who no longer need acute care but have nowhere to go. Our plan will fund additional rehab beds, geriatric beds and nursing home beds for these patients, to make room for more emergency patients, in turn allowing ambulances to unload and get back on the road.
The Greens' plan to invest an additional $5 billion into our healthcare system includes:
- Employing more free GPs, nurses and allied health professionals in the postcodes which need them most, with an additional $500m.
- Investing an extra $1.3 billion in freeing up beds in hospitals by providing more aged care, disability and rehab beds outside hospitals.
- Investing an additional $120 million in public dental ($40m a year), to reduce the very long waiting list for treatment.
- Higher wages for all public health workers, by lifting the public sector wage cap.
- Establishing an Office of the Chief General Practitioner to better coordinate primary care with hospital care and public health to help avoid another healthcare crisis in the future.
- $10m for two additional surgical robots and training to provide computer assisted cancer surgery at hospitals in North-east and South East Melbourne.
TACKLING COVID AND PREVENTATIVE HEALTH
Prevention saves lives
Good population health reduces demand on ambulances, hospitals, and elective surgery.
But our health system is being pushed to capacity with sick patients, whose illnesses wouldn’t have been as severe, costly, or time consuming for our health system, if governments had properly invested in early preventative treatment.
Too many times throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the government move too slowly to prevent the spread of disease, leading to greater demand for healthcare. Beyond COVID, whether it’s dental care or mental health, people should have access to preventative care.
There are simple actions the government can take to help prevent illness and disease.
Many countries have a national Centre for Disease Control, and so should Australia. Melbourne should be the headquarters of our CDC which will make national decisions about how best to protect Australians from epidemics.
However the Greens’ most important preventative health policies aren’t here in the health policy. Our housing and homelessness policy will ensure more vulnerable and low-income Victorians have a place to live and are therefore better able to stay healthy. Our public and active transport policy will keep people walking and moving, rather than sitting and driving, reducing the diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
The Greens plan includes:
- Establish a National Centre for Disease Control headquarters in Melbourne.
- Reduce COVID cases through a public health information campaign about the importance of vaccines and better ventilation.
- Reduce COVID cases by actively following the recommendations of the Chief Health Officer as a default position.
- Provide free flu vaccines every year for all Victorians.
- Provide $30 million for small business clean air grants to improve indoor ventilation.
- Ban advertising of junk food, alcohol and gambling on all state-owned billboards, buses, trams and stations.
- Require tobacco outlets to be licenced, like in other states.
- Increase ongoing funding for our health promotion agency, VicHealth, by $10 million annually.
Providing more mental health support
We need mental health care that’s available and affordable
It’s too difficult to get affordable access to a qualified mental health professional in Victoria. Waiting lists are long, and out of pockets costs are more than many can pay.
Under the Greens’ plan, we’re calling for more psychologists and psychiatrists in schools and public clinics, and more funding for drug and alcohol rehab beds, so everyone can get the help they need, when they need it.
We’re also taking on homelessness and housing insecurity, by calling for more public housing, and protection for renters, because housing insecurity is strongly linked to mental health issues.
Psychologists often cost $100 a session even with a rebate, leaving them out of reach for many of us.
The Greens' plan includes:
- Funding 500 more psychologists and psychiatrists for schools and public clinics.
- Funding 200 more drug and alcohol detox and rehab beds, so people can get access to these services when they need them.
- Investing further in public housing and homelessness services, and protection for renters, to break the cycle between housing insecurity and mental illness.
- $12m in funding to Eating Disorders Victoria. This funding will scale proven programs, increase early intervention, support broader system training and development, and provide organisational certainty.
More funding for sexual and reproductive health
Abortion is a human right
Cost can be a barrier preventing many people from accessing contraception when they need it. And abortions are still hard to get in Victorian public hospitals – even harder for people in country Victoria.
Publicly funded hospitals should not be able to refuse to provide abortions on religious grounds.
Sexual and reproductive health care shouldn't just be for those who can afford it.
Over the past twenty years, several sexually transmitted infections have re-established themselves in Victoria.
Syphilis was rare in the 1990s and is now commonplace, causing infections and occasional deaths in babies. Syphilis in the newborn is readily preventable and a sign of the breakdown of basic healthcare.
The sudden appearance of the monkeypox pandemic shows why we need experts and clinical services for diagnosing and treating sexually transmitted infections.
Melbourne has only one public sexual health centre, but it has become so busy that it regularly turns people away.
The Greens plan includes:
- $5m per year to provide more medical and surgical abortion services, on top of Medicare funding.
- Up to 5 additional 'reproductive and sexual health' leave days for all public servants (for procedures such as IVF, vasectomies, terminations, contraception and gender transitioning therapies).
- More GPs providing medical abortion where they are needed.
- Contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and hormonal implants (like Implanon) currently on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme would be subsidised by the state to reduce the out of pocket cost to zero.
- $2 million dollars for free condoms to be made available at secondary schools.
- $8 million dollars subsidising IUD insertion fees charged in general practice, to encourage more GPs to offer this service. Subsidies would be $200.
- $1.5 million dollars to increase access for migrant women to sexual health, contraception, antenatal care and health education.
- $3m annually for a new public service to provide expert clinical care of sexually transmitted infections.
MORE FUNDING FOR GENDER CARE
Everyone should be able to access health services that meet their needs.
Victoria has adult gender clinics in Clayton and a child and adolescent service in Parkville and a small service in Collingwood provided by an NGO. But no gender affirmation surgery is performed in the public health system.
The Greens will invest in additional clinical services, supplemented by Medicare funding, for Trans, Gender Diverse and Non Binary Victorians.
Everyone should feel free from discrimination when accessing health services.
The Greens plan includes:
- Investing in additional gender diverse health care as part of our $200m Rainbow State Fund.
- Establishing an LGBTIQA+ Community Hub with family services, youth facilities, events, and co-located health services.
Access to health services is just one part of the Victorian Greens Rainbow State Plan.
Better healthcare for women and gender-diverse people
Our healthcare system shouldn't leave anyone behind
Victoria’s maternity care system hit crisis levels during the pandemic following years of underfunding and the closing of the last of Victoria’s well-respected birth centres in 2013.
Women were giving birth in corridors and emergency rooms, and even on the side of the road. Women were sent home from hospital early, only to return with serious complications, and hard-working midwives suffered extreme stress and burnout.
Changes are needed to ensure Victoria’s maternity care system supports women and families, and retains our talented and hardworking midwives.
Also while abortion is legal in Victoria, the ability of women and other people who get pregnant to access an abortion remain a challenge that needs to be addressed. Similarly, contraception should be more easily accessible for all who need it.
The Greens' plan includes:
- Boosting maternity health, including developing a plan to reopen birth centres connected to major hospitals; $10m for more publicly funded homebirth programs in hospitals; and more continuity of care by rearranging rosters to allow more 1:1 midwifery care in hospitals.
- $15m to provide greater access to abortion services.
- Investing in additional clinical services for trans, gender-diverse and non-binary Victorians.
- Ongoing funding of $1m per year for Vixen to support the health of sex workers.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG TREATMENT
A health-based approach to treating drug and alcohol use will help reduce the impact of this use on our community, saving lives
Thousands of us smoke cannabis or take MDMA each year. Victorians – especially marginalised communities and young people – have been more at risk from the policing response, than the drugs we take.
Shifting to a health-based approach accepts the reality that many people in our community use drugs. It’s the first essential step to reducing drug harm.
Victoria also has the second lowest number of alcohol and drug detox and rehab beds per person in the country. The Greens' plan includes funding 200 more beds, so when people decide it’s time to treat their addictions, they don’t have to wait.
When people go onto methadone to replace heroin or other opioids, they often stop using it because of the cost, reverting back to heroin. The Greens will make methadone free, like it is in other states, so more Victorians can get their lives back in order without relapsing.
The Greens' plan includes:
- Decriminalise personal drug use – we should direct people who use drugs to health services for help, not prison for harm.
- Legalise, tax and regulate cannabis to turn people away from the black market, because prohibition causes more harm than good.
- Fund 200 more detox and drug rehab beds, including in regional Victoria.
- Expand and fund Opioid Replacement Therapy to treat addiction.
- Mobile pill testing services at live music events and at a fixed site, linking to a state-wide public drug early-warning system.
GREENING OUR HEALTH SYSTEM
It's time to get our health system onto 100% renewables.
Victorian public health services generate tens of thousands of tonnes of waste every year, and only a fraction of it is recycled. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic has contributed even more.
They also damage our climate. Many of the products used in our health system can be replaced with more climate friendly options. For example a bottle of the anaesthetic gas desflurane has the same climate impact as burning 440 kg of coal. But desflurane can be readily replaced by less climate polluting alternatives.
Our hospitals are heated by expensive and dirty gas fossil fuels, with the first all-electric hospital not scheduled to open until 2029.
There's lots we can do to reduce the impact of our health system on the climate.
The Greens plan includes:
- Developing a roadmap to transition hospitals off gas, to cheaper, efficient 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
- Banning desflurane use by 2024.
- Creating a Sustainable Healthcare Unit in the Department of Health to tackle hospital waste, cut healthcare emissions, review use-by dates and promote reusable healthcare items.
HOW WE'LL PAY FOR OUR POLICIES
- Making big corporations pay their fair share
The Greens will make the big banks, property developers and the gambling industry pay their fair share of tax so we can invest in climate action, affordable housing and public services for all.
Our plans will also be paid for by spending smarter and making our state borrowings work for the community