Hospitals in Victoria, Australia, are to receive A$13.9m to open another 102 sub-acute beds across the state.

The funding is part of the state government’s winter strategy, which will allow an additional 1,029 patients to be treated from 1 July.

The beds are expected to improve patient flow by freeing up beds in acute wards and support staff in emergency departments. New doctors and nurses are also being hired.

Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews said that the health system is under more pressure in winter due to seasonal increases in flu and gastroenteritis.

“Under the strategy, all metropolitan and regional health services will put in place a plan responding to demand pressures over the 2010 winter months,” he said.

Hospital funding under the state’s current government has increased by 153%, while A$7.5bn has been invested to create the largest health capital programme in state’s history.

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“We have also secured more than A$1bn for Victorian patients over the next four years, with at least A$3.8bn more in the years beyond, in our recent agreement with the Commonwealth to continue to grow and improve our health system,” Andrews said.

This year’s budget, with a A$4bn boost to Victoria’s health system, includes funding to open ten additional ICU beds across the state.

Three are already open, and four more will come into use in July at the St Vincent’s, Northern, Geelong and Dandenong hospitals. The remaining three will open later in 2010.