New help for Victorian paramedics from Prime Minister Daniel Andrews

New measures have been taken to help Victorian paramedics as the state continues to grapple with the Covid health crisis.

The Victorian government has taken a number of new measures to help paramedics working in a pump shortage as the state’s healthcare system is laying off an average of 2,000 employees every day.

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced that Victoria’s virtual emergency room capacity will be doubled as part of $162 million medical package.

The service can now be used by up to 500 patients per day, allowing people to have video consultations with an emergency doctor or nurse from their own home.

The program has also been expanded to be accessible to people living in nursing homes and anyone on the Covid Positive Pathways.

Since the launch of the program in October 2020, more than 28,000 patients have been seen, with an average ER and/or emergency room referral rate of 71 percent.

Mr Andrews said expanding the virtual program makes “common sense” as emergency rooms will be busy over the winter.

“No one wants to spend time in the emergency room if you can get help, referral, path and treatment in a more efficient way,” he said.

“He doesn’t see that you have to leave your home and he sees that all of our resources are being used as well as possible. This is a great thing for the system.

“They (virtual ER patients) got what they needed with little or no need to transport them by ambulance or under their own power, without having to be physically present and waiting in the ER and potentially taking up space and time.”

Capacity and available beds were a major concern in Victorian hospitals as the third wave was fueled by the contagious Omicron BA. 4 and BA. 5 sub-options.

The number of Victorians in hospital with Covid has increased by 99 percent in less than a month, and Covid hospitalizations in intensive care units have increased by 60 percent.

The state’s Covid hospitalizations topped 800 on Monday, with 10,251 new cases.

Amanda Thornton, head of the Victorian Ambulance Service, said that in addition to diversifying patients to help free up precious hospital beds, the virtual emergency room has also become faster and more efficient.

“The average case that goes through the virtual emergency room can take 40 to 60 minutes, that’s all of our time. When we transport people to the hospital, we see that it goes on until eight or nine hours,” he said.

“The advantage, of course, is that we can refer these patients for treatment at their place of residence. We can get our ambulances back on the road.”

Other measures announced by the government included a new rostering scheme for advanced life support paramedic teams that is being tested in four ambulance areas in metropolitan Melbourne.

The unloading crews of Ambulance Victoria have also been expanded to 14 large public hospitals out of six existing ones.

It comes after several ambulance red codes were announced in the state this year due to a shortage of staff related to Covid and flu.

In the first week of July alone, more than 10,000 healthcare workers were fired, and since June 22, their number has increased by 47%.

Originally published as Daniel Andrews introduces new health measures to help paramedics under siege