Robyn Lindsay addresses a media conference.

BENDIGO Health will employ 170 more health workers this financial year to meet increased demand from consistent transfers to Bendigo Hospital by the air ambulance since August.

Executive director of clinical operations Robyn Lindsay said the hospital was managing three transfers by air per week.

The number is at the upper level of Bendigo Health’s expectations and has forced the organisation to recruit in departments where critical patients were being treated.

“We anticipated we would receive about two or three transfers a week, it has been about three consistently over that time and predominately that has been cardiology patients and it has been patients coming from the north west of Victoria,” Ms Lindsay said.

“Predominately the new staff are going to be in the acute health space – in the intensive care unit, in our emergency department and in the acute wards.

“The clinicians that have been employed are nurses predominately, but also doctors and allied health staff.”

Bendigo Health has been granted the extra funding by the state government.

Its operating budget was already increased by $34 million this year, enough for it to increase capacity at the hospital by six per cent. This year the budget is $320.5m, an increase of 12 per cent and higher than Victoria’s health budget increase of 10 per cent.

“It is more people essentially,” Mr Cameron said at the budget announcement, referring to the reason behind the increase.

This week, Ms Lindsay said the hospital would open another resuscitation bay in the emergency department as well as two extra beds in intensive care.

“In addition, we are getting more people from Bendigo and across the region coming to our hospital, so there are 12 more ward beds than last year,” she said.

“There is increased activity in every department.”

Mr Cameron said the response to the new hospital had been better than expected.

“The more patients we can treat here, rather than Melbourne, means more local health jobs,” he said.

More than 1000 new jobs were forecast to be created over the next decade at Bendigo Health.

Bendigo East MP Jacinta Allan said 600 jobs had been added during the four years of the Labor government.

– Sharon Kemp