$50m announced to help Victorian hospitals tackle the 2018 flu season


A $50-million investment will readying Victoria’s hospitals for the possibility of another horror flu season.

Hospitals have been advised to ‘address their local winter demands in a range of ways that best suit their community’s needs’including opening more beds and hiring more doctors and nurses to treat patients.

The announcement also included an additional $3.5 million for Victorian children aged between six months and five years to receive free flu shots.

The vaccines will be available from next month.

It comes after the state government urged the federal government to expand the National Immunisation Program.

Children six months and over with medical risk factors areeligible for a free flu shot each year, as are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from six months of age until their fifth birthday.

Bendigo Health was one of 17 health services statewide to receive funding to help prepare for the flu season.

The state government will set aside $50-million in the2018-19 budget to help hospital emergency departments cater to demand.

The investment follows one of Victoria’sworst flu seasons on record, in which there were more than 48,000 confirmed cases of influenza.

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More than1680 of those cases were from the Loddon Mallee region.

Greater Bendigo was home to about 487 confirmed flu cases in 2017 –more than seven times that of the year prior, when there were 67;and more than double that of 2015, when there were205 cases.

“We’re giving families peace of mind that if another horror flu season hits this winter, our hospitals will be ready,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Other health services and hospitalsto receivefunding include the Royal Children’s Hospital, Ballarat Health Services, Barwon Health,Albury Wodonga Health,Goulburn Valley Health, andNortheast Health Wangaratta.

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