The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says people across his electorate will be major winners from the Liberal Nationals sweeping restructure of how healthcare is delivered – immediately and in the future.
Mr Walsh says a key part of the plan to fix the health crisis is a new $325 million Future Health Workforce Plan to “recruit, upskill, better manage and support the staff we need to return confidence to our health system”.
He says in total, the plan will deliver an additional 18,000 new and upskilled nurses and midwives across the public and private sectors – “and that’s on top of the 22,000 promised by the Andrews Labor Government”.
Furthermore, he says this plan will overhaul the way in which healthcare staff are mentored and developed by utilising existing clinical skill and experience.
“One of the challenges in regional Victorian centres is getting people to embrace what a regional/rural lifestyle can offer outside the workplace,” Mr Walsh says.
“A big part of that will be informing and working with the proposed Health Workforce Accommodation Taskforce to examine appropriate accommodation options, to not only attract health workers to rural and regional Victoria, but to also help retain existing workers who are finding it difficult to secure housing in the current tight private rental market in many areas,” he says.
“If you can help people to have a settled home in a new environment, it gives them a much better base on which to build a life in a regional hub, and those places have so much going for them.”
Mr Walsh says the Liberals and Nationals’ $325 million Future Health Workforce Plan, will deliver:
- 25,000 scholarships of $16,500 to fully offset the upfront HECS debts of nursing and midwifery students – including 20,000 for public health positions and 5,000 for the private health sector.
- 10,000 scholarships for existing nurses and midwives to upgrade their skills with postgraduate and specialist training fully paid to upskill to roles such as becoming registered nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse unit managers and maternal and child health nurses, to be delivered by leading health education providers including the Australian College of Nursing.
- The immediate recruitment of 5000 new nurses and midwives and 2000 new other health workers by funding re-training fees and establishing a new visa subclass for international health workers.
In addition, we will immediately establish a Victorian Ministerial Health Workforce Council which will be tasked with:
- Conducting a state-wide public and private sector workforce and skills audit to inform the mix of newly funded positions.
- Developing a robust and flexible surge workforce model to assist in managing future emergency events and pandemics.
- Expanding ‘full scope of practice’ workforce programs, including better utilisation of the existing clinical skill and expertise base, as well as expanding specialist roles such as Nurse Practitioners, Allied Health Generalists, Community Paramedics and Maternal and Child Health Nurses.
- Developing ongoing health workforce recruitment campaigns, staff retention measures and incentives in consultation with all stakeholders to mitigate future attrition.
- Supporting the creation of, and assisting in informing negotiations with the Commonwealth, for a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) specifically focused on urgently addressing Victorian rural and regional health workforce shortages.
- Informing and working with the proposed Health Workforce Accommodation Taskforce to examine appropriate accommodation options, to not only attract health workers to rural and regional Victoria, but to also help retain existing workers who are finding it difficult to secure housing in the current tight private rental market in many areas.
Mr Walsh says this “significant and urgent” step forward matches the Victorian Liberals and Nationals’ commitment to build or upgrade at least 20 hospitals across Victoria, with money reprioritised from shelving Daniel Andrews’ $35 billion Cheltenham to Box Hill rail line black hole.
He says this is a critical real solution to fix the health crisis.
“Nurses, midwives and other vital healthcare staff are the glue that holds our health system together. By better supporting them we will deliver better health outcomes for all Victorians.”
“Not only will we deliver at least 20 new and upgraded hospitals across Victoria but we will put the best trained and supported healthcare staff in them.”
“Only the Liberals and Nationals have real solutions to fix the health crisis without new taxes or more debt.”