The Victorian Government’s plan to pay for nursing training in return for nurses working in Victorian public hospitals is a poorly thought out piece of electioneering that will lead to a shortage of nurses in aged care and private hospitals, according to Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) CEO Michael Roff.
Roff said while the proposal would provide incentives for graduate nurses to work in public hospitals, that will inevitably mean fewer nurses for other care, including primary care, aged care and private hospitals.
“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,” Roff said.
“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.
“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 needs 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.”
Roff said private hospitals train a number of graduate nurses and many had significantly increased their graduate intakes in an effort to increasing the nursing workforce. These nurses are not prohibited from working in the public sector if they choose to, but it would now be very difficult to attract graduates into private hospitals.
“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 healthcare 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,” Roff said.