The Andrews Government’s budget delivers on its election promises to Victorian nurses and midwives.
The government is providing $64.4 million to public hospitals and health services over four years to employ extra nurses and midwives.
This funding is significant because, rather than just increasing overall numbers, it is tied to increasing the number of nurses and midwives on a shift to improve workloads and patient care.
The first improvements involve removing the rostering rule, known as the ’50 per cent rule’, which allowed hospitals to round down nursing and midwifery numbers when the number of beds was not easily divisible by the legislated ratio.
The initial ratio amendments were effective from March and must be fully implemented by August 2019.
The removal of the ‘50 per cent rule’ applies to all shifts in level 1 emergency departments, and in level 1 and 2 hospitals in: general medical and surgical wards, coronary care units, high dependency units, operating theatres, post-anaesthetic recovery rooms.
It will also apply to night shifts in level 3 and 4 hospitals in: general medical and surgical wards, aged high care residential wards, coronary care units, operating theatres, post-anaesthetic recovery rooms and emergency departments.
Further improvements in this first tranche will be phased in each March over the next four years. The Andrews Government has promised a second tranche of improvements.
As part of its strategic workforce approach, the Andrews Government plans to spend almost half of its promised $50 million workforce development fund in 2019-20.
Over the next four years, in regional and metropolitan Victoria, the fund will deliver:
- more graduate nurse and midwife positions and clinical mentors
- a statewide graduate program for 400 enrolled nurses
- 400 postgraduate scholarships for nurses and midwives
- 400 places in clinical specialty programs, such as the Postgraduate Midwifery Employment Program
- 800 refresher programs for nurses and midwives who are registered but not practising.
The Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Development Fund is in addition to the free enrolled nursing courses at Victorian TAFEs.
The two tranches of ratio improvements will require more than 1100 nurses and midwives. ANMF will advise members about the Workforce Development Fund opportunities as soon as details become available. ANMF will continue to offer its education fee grants, totalling $500,000 a year, to eligible members to pursue post-registration and postgraduate studies in areas of clinical need.
Maternal and child health nursing
More of Victoria’s highly-qualified maternal and child health nurses will be employed as part of the Andrews Government’s $213.6 million investment in new parenting centres. There will also be more positions to increase the number of new-parent visits and to answer parents’ calls to the maternal and child health line.
Public aged care leaders
Victoria is again leading the way as the only state building public aged care services with $81.6 million allocated for a new 120-bed residential aged care facility. The Wantirna facility will include 60 high care beds and 60 mental health care beds. This is in addition to the new 90-bed facility in Kew, which is due for completion later this year.
We are also pleased that the Andrews Government is getting on with improving access to community mental health services for another 7000 people rather than waiting for the outcome of the royal commission. A further $23.3 million will be spent on 28 inpatient mental health beds, and $9 million will be spent over two years to support 30 registered nurses undertaking mental health studies. There will also be a focus on Indigenous mental health programs.
ANMF is also encouraged by the Andrews Government’s compassionate decision to spend $3 million to provide access to mental and physical health support for people awaiting confirmation of their refugee status. This investment plugs a gap left by the Morrison Government’s decision to cut funding for these programs.