Private hospitals slam Victoria's move on nursing workforce

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The Australian Private Hospitals Association says the Victorian government's plan to pay for nursing training in return for working in the state's public hospitals is a poorly thought-out piece of electioneering.

According to CEO Michael Roff, the initiative will lead to a shortage of nurses in aged care and private hospitals.

Mr Roff said, “This move could force the closure of services in the private sector and that is not good news for the state’s public hospital system. Victoria’s public hospitals are already groaning under the strain of COVID-19, influenza and massive elective surgery backlogs. They are currently relying on the private sector to help them manage all of this. If the private sector loses hospitals, the pressure on the public system only increases.

“The Victorian Premier’s plan will also undermine the Federal Government’s plan to attract more nurses into aged care. If they are training only to go into public hospitals, there are no nurses for the Federally managed aged care sector," he said.

“All this does is start a bidding war between states and territories and across the health system for a workforce that isn’t there.

“We agree with Federal Health Minister Mark Butler that Australia need a national strategy to address the health workforce shortage. If each state and territory follows Victoria’s lead, we will have not have a national strategy but eight different approaches competing with each other.”

Mr Roff said private hospitals train a number of graduate nurses and many had significantly increased their graduate intakes in an effort to increase the nursing workforce.

“We call on the Federal Minister to intervene to ensure we have a national program to address Australia’s skilled workforce issues. Taking a broad view of our health care system and its requirements is the best way to address workforce shortage, not states one-upping each other with offers that may not result in any huge boost to workforce,” added Mr Roff.