Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed he “narrowly avoided” permanent spinal damage in a fall last week, confirming he will step down from his duties for at least six weeks.
- Mr Andrews broke at least five ribs and fractured his vertebra
- Doctors say he has responded well without surgery so far
- James Merlino is acting Premier while Mr Andrews recovers
Mr Andrews said in a statement he was pleased to return home after six days in hospital, and offered a more detailed explanation of the injury he had suffered while getting ready for work a week ago.
“As you know, at around 6:30am last Tuesday, I fell heavily on wooden steps at the front of a rental beach house that our family had been staying at for the long weekend,” he said.
“I landed flat on my back and hit the steps hard directly below the shoulder blades fracturing at least five ribs and sustaining an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra.
Mr Andrews said his serious injuries required him to wear a brace except while sleeping and will involve a leave from his duties as Premier for “at least six weeks”.
“Of course, I will remain in regular contact with James [Merlino] and my other colleagues and staff,” he said.
Doctors from the Alfred’s trauma centre earlier said they were pleased with Mr Andrews’ progress, but the road to recovery would be long.
The Alfred’s director of trauma services, Mark Fitzgerald, said Mr Andrews would need to undergo a significant period of rehabilitation.
“Mr Andrews has responded well without surgery so far, and the work to improve his strength and mobility must now begin,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
Mr Andrews did not undergo surgery while in hospital, but Professor Fitzgerald did not rule that out as a possibility at some point.
“Any deterioration may lead to a need for surgery down the track; however, we are gradually progressing in the right direction at this time,” he said.
James Merlino is Victoria’s acting Premier while Mr Andrews recovers.
On Sunday Mr Merlino said discussions were underway with National Cabinet to see whether he could attend the April meeting in Mr Andrews’s place.