ACEM acknowledges the recent announcement from the Victorian Government in relation to increasing COVID-19 cases across the community linked to the emergence of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

Hospital emergency departments, and the entire healthcare system, continue to come under enormous pressure. Emergency department staff continue to see large numbers of patients unwell with the flu and other respiratory viruses. This includes a recent large increase in the number of patients unwell with COVID-19 requiring hospital admission, particularly over the past week.

The College supports measures to communicate, highlight risk and provide additional advice to Victorians to mitigate the risk of becoming unwell, but also encourages the government to consider mandating additional public health measures as recommended by public health officials, to help protect the community and ease pressure on the state’s healthcare system.

We encourage people to receive any vaccine they are eligible for, and heed mask-wearing recommendations.

ACEM acknowledges the decision to redefine the period in which someone is considered a recently confirmed case from 12 weeks to four. There is a fine balance to be struck between enhanced community safety and ensuring sufficient staff are available to work in the healthcare system. We urge the government to carefully consider this, particularly in relation to any measures which may prevent well healthcare workers from attending work in an already understaffed system.

As frontline healthcare workers continue to contend with increasing numbers of patients unwell with COVID-19, in addition to a multitude of ongoing systemic pressures, we are eager to see consideration given to additional options for the at-home management of patients both with COVID and other conditions, deemed well enough to be discharged from hospital.

This will free up limited acute beds for the care of the most unwell.

In order to the help manage the current significant demand and pressures, we are also calling for access to senior medical decision makers and other diagnostic services, outside of EDs, seven days per week. While EDs are working exceptionally hard to manage the increased pressure of providing patient care during these workforce shortages and deteriorating hospital access block, support services staff need to continually be prioritised within emergency departments, to ensure nurses and doctors are able to focus on patient centred care.

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