Mary Wooldridge MP

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Melbourne Sexual Health Centre feeling the pressure

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Last week in Parliament I asked the Minister for Health and the Department of Health and Human Services to meet with both Alfred Health and the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre to develop a plan and deliver funding so that the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre can meet the demand that they are experiencing and provide an effective service for the Victorian community. 

The Melbourne Sexual Health Centre in one form or another has been operating since 1917, and there is no doubt it has made a very significant difference to the health and wellbeing of many Victorians over that extended period of time. What we have seen in recent times is that the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre has experienced dramatic growth.

Over approximately a 10-year period the number of individuals who visited the centre every year has gone from 11 400 to 24 100. The number of consultations has grown from 26 000 up to over 46 000. The number of chlamydia cases diagnosed each year over that roughly 10-year period has grown from 768 to 2730 — a very significant growth — with a big spike in 2016. Similar in terms of growth levels, the number of cases of gonorrhoea diagnosed each year have gone from 262 to 1719 — a massive increase — and once again there was a huge step up in 2015 and 2016, when it went from 730 in 2014 up to 1500 the following year and now of course 1700. Infectious syphilis has gone from approximately 65 cases each year to about 350, and the number of individuals seen in the HIV clinic each year has grown from 596 to 1427.

This is a clear warning for all members who are listening that these risks are very real, and it is the Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic that is diagnosing them, treating them and working with Victorians. Despite the fact that they have engaged a range of cost and resource efficiencies, they are absolutely overwhelmed by need. It is seen that they are becoming a bottleneck to the sexual health system. They need a plan to address how they deal with this growth so they can continue to meet the demand, and they need funding to be able to deliver these services, which not only protect individuals but protect many others as well. 

That's why I've asked the minister to meet with the centre to give them the attention they need and make sure they can continue to deliver a very important and effective service.

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