Virtual ED easing pressure on health system


Residential aged care facilities, including those in Hume and Whittlesea, will be a part of the Victorian government’s new initiative to better and co-ordinate triple-0 calls and ease pressure on hospitals and ambulances.

Starting next week, Ambulance Victoria’s triage services will begin using the Virtual ED run out of Northern Health to improve how Triple-0 calls from aged care facilities are are triaged.

Health Minister and Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas said the expanded virtual health services, more GP respiratory clinics and the government’s Better at Home program were a way of bringing quality care to the community while keeping people out of hospital.

“Doctors, nurses and ambos are doing phenomenal work under enormous pressure, and by allowing even more Victorians to be triaged and assessed virtually we can help ease some of that demand,” Ms Thomas said.

In a statement, the government said the new system would allow for some Triple-0 calls for aged care residents who don’t need an emergency ambulance to instead be connected to the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department.

“This expansion into aged care forms part of work underway to boost the overall capacity of the Virtual ED,” the government said.

“Currently seeing an average of 300 patients per day, additional funding will see the service scale up to seeing more than 500 patients per day, including people living in residential aged care.

“This new virtual service is expected to provide free assessment and consultation to around 80 patients a day and will be appropriate for residents with a variety of conditions or ailments, such as dehydration, unidentified infection or a cognitive event.

“They can then be connected to a range of services and supports such as clinical assessments, medical advice and specialist referrals to better manage or treat their condition.”

According to the government, the new pathway will not only remove the burden on residents of having to leave their homes to go to hospital, but also free up emergency department space and ambulances for the people who need it most.

“The service will partner with residential in-reach teams available across the state to ensure 24/7 access to care, providing a range of alternative referral options which will be particularly valuable to both facilities and resident after hours,” the government.

“Since October 2020, the Virtual ED has supported more than 28,000 patients and achieved an ambulance or emergency department diversion rate of around 71 per cent.

“It’s on top of the $12 billion Pandemic Repair Plan, a record funding boost and comprehensive health plan for Victoria’s future to get more paramedics on the road, more Triple-0 call takers, expand emergency departments, and recruit or train 7,000 extra healthcare workers.