Victoria and NSW are expanding emergency care services to ease pressure on emergency departments

The Victoria and New South Wales governments have announced joint funding for new emergency care services in both states to take pressure off hospital emergency rooms.

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews and New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet announced that 25 emergency care services working with GPs would be funded in each state.

The services treat conditions such as minor infections, fractures and burns, freeing up resources in hospital emergency rooms to deal with more serious cases.

Mr Andrews said the services will be operational for longer, patients will not pay any fees and those without a Medicare card will have access to GPs.

“Rather than going to a free emergency room, go to a free primary care option where you can get all the care you need as conveniently and easily as possible,” he said.

“It’s never been so difficult to find a GP who bills in bulk.”

Hospital emergency departments in Victoria and NSW have been under unprecedented pressure since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.(ABC News: Billy Draper)

The announcement comes as hospital emergency rooms come under unprecedented pressure, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Victoria saw 486,701 emergency department visits in the last quarter, while NSW saw 734,704 visits in the first quarter of 2022.

Mr Perrottet said states were under pressure to find long-term solutions to the emergency supplies crisis.

“We’ve seen a 30 percent increase in presentations in our emergency rooms in our state over the past 10 years, and that’s not a unique experience happening across the country,” he said.

“Here is an opportunity for two state governments, the largest states in the country, to work together in a space that has not traditionally been ours.”

The prime ministers welcome the rare intergovernmental cooperation

Both Prime Ministers were keen to highlight what the NSW leader called a “new era” of cooperation between states across partisan lines

“I’m not sitting here at a Labor fundraiser, I’m sitting here with a Prime Minister who wants to get things done and look after his people,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We brought up that relationship, we worked very closely together and that’s important.”

The relationship between the two states has been uneasy at times during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last September, Mr Andrews claimed NSW received preferential treatment from the federal government in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, but the Victorian PM said he had a good working relationship with his NSW counterpart.

“When it comes to patient care, politics doesn’t matter,” he said.

“I’m sure there are things we don’t agree on, I’m sure there’s always a bit of that Sydney-Melbourne rivalry, but at the end of the day you get more done when you work together .”

Asked about the announcement, Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy criticized the Andrews government’s management of the health crisis.

“I am very pleased that it takes a Liberal Prime Minister to tell Daniel Andrews how to fix the health system,” he said.

“In Victoria we may have our own Liberal PM in 90 days – we can get on with fixing it down here.”

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