Australians accessing public hospitals in Victoria may be experiencing increased waiting times due to doctors treating more international visitors.
According to health department figures released to the Herald Sun today (February 9), emergency departments treated 19,429 overseas visitors in 2010-11 – a figure that has almost tripled in the past six years.
While emergency admissions contributed significantly to the data, an increasing number of patients were accessing facilities for maternity and elective surgeries.
Currently, visitors with a 457 Visa are required to take out a private health insurance policy, however vice-president of the Australian Medical Association's Victorian branch Stephen Parnis believes that making insurance a requirement for a wider number of international visitors should be considered.
"If people have the means to come to Australia on an international holiday they should have the means to make allowance for their own healthcare," he told the News Limited source.
Monash Medical Centre was the most popular facility – treating almost 4,300 foreign patients – while St Vincent's Hospital and the Royal Women's Hospitals also recorded significant emergency department presentations.