Despite some alarmist predictions in the media ahead of the polls, November’s state election has delivered a third-term majority Andrews Labor Government. This is excellent news for Victoria’s nurses, midwives and carers.
The Andrews Government’s willingness, over its past two terms, to listen to and respond to nurses and midwives has set it apart from all other state and territory governments, past and present. Just some of the key election commitments this government has delivered already include:
- legislating ratios
- ongoing improvements to ratios
- establishing the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and committing to delivering on all of its recommendations
- protecting Victoria’s maternal and child health nurses’ triple qualification.
We now look forward to work beginning on its 2022 commitments early in the new year, and to another four years of a government that will work with ANMF members to keep on improving our health system, no matter what sector you work in.
The one possibly unfortunate result from the election is the potential loss of Fiona Patten MP from the upper house. Ms Patten, who is the leader of the Reason Party and a hard working parliamentarian, is a great supporter of nurses and midwives – most recently advocating for a health-led response to drug use and possession, and introducing an amendment to the Mental Health and Welling Bill that addressed concerns we had about the Bill’s initial draft around occupational health and safety provisions. At the time of writing, Ms Patten’s Northern Metropolitan seat was still too close to call. We wish Ms Patten luck.
COVID wave – stage 3
On 3 December, in response to increasing numbers of furloughed staff (about 1400 per day mostly nurses and midwives) and rising COVID hospitalisations (550 daily average), the Department of Health moved public health services to stage 3 under the COVID response plan.
The stage announcement and rising COVID cases are unwelcome reminders, yet again, that the pandemic is not over. We encourage you to check in on each other. If you are not coping or want to protect yourself from burnout, please think about contacting the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria.
NMHPV is not a replacement for employers exhausting all avenues to ensure rosters are filled. But it is an important free and confidential service to maintain your wellbeing, develop healthy stress responses and find support if needed.
Stage 3 enables health services to make local decisions about managing non-urgent patients in emergency departments, non-urgent elective surgery and utilising private hospital support to maintain planned care. It also triggers public health services’ ability to implement extended team-based models, COVID-streaming models and elective surgery reductions – to ensure the system can prioritise the most urgent care and provide the safest patient care possible during a COVID outbreak.
Stage 3 includes implementation of extended team-based models in wards or units dramatically impacted by furloughing. Employers can implement the model, in consultation with the ANMF and its members, only when ratios cannot be met on the forward roster with registered and enrolled nurses and midwives.
At the time of writing, ANMF is aware of the implementation of extended team models in some limited, mostly metropolitan wards as a result of the latest stage 3 announcement, and we are seeking further information from healthcare services, the Department of Health and our members. Job Reps are also encouraged to contact their organiser if extended team models are being proposed in your ward or unit. Some maternity units were already using extended team models due to workforce pressures.
While health services may consider cancelling staff leave under a stage 3 response, ANMF has requested that employers not cancel approved annual leave. It is critical that nurses and midwives continue to access annual leave to rest and recharge, particularly those who have had their leave delayed during previous waves.
Should members be approached about leave cancellation please contact ANMF Member Assistance for advice.