I met last week with the executive team from Werribee Mercy Hospital. The Mercy deliver great service to our local community. They have a strong vision for the future of health provision in our area. Wyndham's population is about to reach 200,000. The number of households is expected to double again by 2030. The Werribee Mercy was established in 1994, when the population was estimated to reach around 90,000 in 2004. At the time the local community hospital was the correct service for the area and, despite this huge growth in population, it serves us well, but for how much longer?
Mercy Health in Werribee has an extremely well-trained and dedicated staff. Some of the top experts in Victoria choose to work at this service. What the Mercy needs are the facilities to serve this high-growth community. If you present to the Mercy Hospital today with a heart attack, the staff are very well trained to save and stabilise you, but for your long-term ongoing treatment you need to be transferred. At my recent meeting I was told of a doctor spending six hours on the phone to other hospitals trying to secure a transfer for a patient. If the hospital had a coronary care unit, this would have been avoided, meaning the doctor would have been back treating patients in the emergency department. If you are a patient in the ward who unfortunately has a critical incident, you are also likely to be transferred to the emergency department to be stabilised at our local hospital. The six closest hospitals to the Mercy where patients are transferred to are, on average, 35 kilometres away. This lack of critical care services compromises patient care and increases clinical risk.
In the electorate of Lalor, there is a huge number of young families and nearly 70 babies are born each week. There is great need for maternity services. The Mercy team know if they had the appropriate facilities they could provide care for approximately 80 per cent of local women; currently the rate is around 48 per cent. They need 10 more obstetric beds now, let alone extra needed for the predicted growth. Current estimates are that around 40 per cent of the general healthcare needs of my community are being met by the Werribee Mercy, meaning 60 per cent leave the area to obtain health care. There will always be cases that need very specialised services only available in our larger teaching hospitals. It is not appropriate for all hospitals to provide all services, but surely the percentage should be much higher than 40 per cent? Mercy Health has undertaken detailed planning for a carefully staged master plan. They take the provision of health care very seriously and their plans are based on sensible, well-targeted needs. In the past the federal Labor government has worked with this service to fund growth, most recently providing $28 million for subacute beds and a rehabilitation unit. I plan to work closely with Mercy Health to ensure this government hears loud and clear what the health service needs are for my electorate.