- $500,000 boost to the Central Gippsland Health Service emergency department to better manage drug-affected patients
- Coalition Government invests $165 million to address the harms of alcohol and drugs in the community
- Builds on Coalition’s tough new sentencing laws for assaulting hospital staff
Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan has announced $500,000 to enable the Central Gippsland Health Service’s emergency department better respond to patients affected by alcohol and drugs, such as ice.
Mr Ryan said the Central Gippsland Health Service (CGHS) in Sale was one of six hospitals to receive the funding, which is part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s record $165 million in funding for alcohol and drug programs in the 2014-15 Budget.
“The local emergency department will now decide what new resources will best suit the needs of the community, which could include hiring a new alcohol and drug specialist or additional training for existing staff,” Mr Ryan said.
“The staff in the emergency department at CGHS are on the front line every day helping patients who are drug and alcohol affected, along with those who are suffering other medical emergencies.
“The Coalition Government is allocating additional resources to assist these frontline staff and ultimately benefit the patients.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said the recent Parliamentary inquiry into the supply and use of methamphetamines, particularly the drug ice, had travelled around Victoria hearing about the impacts of the drug.
“Alcohol and methamphetamines, particularly ice, can destroy health, relationships and have a massive impact on our local communities,” Mr O’Brien said.
“This is important funding to assist our first response medical staff in the emergency department to better provide support their drug and alcohol affected patients through their times of crisis.”
Central Gippsland Health Service chief executive Dr Frank Evans said the Coalition’s funding acknowledged the considerable health care challenges associated with drug and alcohol misuse.
“Alcohol and drug abuse is a significant and increasing problem in the community,” Dr Evans said.
“Our challenge is to meet our absolute commitment to provide a safe environment for our staff while at the same time acknowledging the many causes of drug and alcohol misuse.
“This includes the links to mental health problems, poverty and disadvantage.”
Dr Evans said CGHS would use the funds to protect staff and help make difference to people struggling to cope with mental health issues and drug and alcohol problems, in line with the hospital’s social justice policy.
Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said the funding for the Sale ED was part of the Coalition Government’s $165 million investment to reduce the impact of drugs and alcohol in the community.
“$34 million has been allocated specifically to address the harms of ice and other drugs in the community and provide treatment for an additional 2,000 Victorians.”
Ms Wooldridge said a range of other initiatives has been announced by the Coalition Government to improve safety in Victoria’s hospitals, including:
- More than $40 million for safety and security initiatives in hospitals across the State, including training, improvements to buildings and upgrading duress and security systems;
- New laws introduced to Parliament in June increasing the sentence for seriously assaulting an emergency department doctor or nurse to a minimum of six months;
- Further reforms introduced into Parliament recently creating a minimum six month sentence for serious assaults against all hospital staff.
“The Coalition Government knows it is critical that we invest now so Victorians across the state can access appropriate treatment and support for alcohol and drug problems, as well as make the emergency department a safer place and patients and staff,” Ms Wooldridge said.
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