Victorian Labor Leader Daniel Andrews announced key policies to improve the Victorian health system at the ANMF (Vic Branch) Delegates Conference, with change to come into effect immediately should Labor win the November 29 election.
Mr Andrews outlined his plans to fix the state's public health crisis to 600 Victorian nurses and midwives at the conference, held at the Melbourne Convention Centre.
Mr Andrews said a Victorian Labor Government would:
- ensure that nurses and midwives would not have to fight to retain nurse/midwife to patient ratios
- ensure the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program continues to be funded by nurses’ and midwives’ registration fees
- stop the sell-off of public aged care beds
- make new opportunities available for graduate nurses with a review of current funding and programs
- include ANMF representatives on all committees affecting the nursing and midwifery profession.
On safety in the workplace, Mr Andrews said a Labor Government would appoint an independent expert to ensure the recommendations of the Victorian Taskforce on Violence in Nursing are fully implemented and complied with.
"I want to bring the issue of occupational violence in our health system into the light and under the public eye," Mr Andrews said. "Everyone deserves to know the risks that you face, and you deserve a solution."
He also vowed to establish a simplified reporting mechanism for occupational violence, co-ordinated by the Department of Health.
"We will also undertake an audit of available security staff in public hospitals, and look at risk assessments, behavioural contracts, client alert systems, training and post-incident responses. A comprehensive approach to preventing violence, not just one element," he said.
On nurse/midwife to patient ratios, Mr Andrews said: "Seventy thousand nurses and midwives have had to fight for something as basic as nurse/midwife to patient ratios. Under a Labor Government, you'll never have to fight for that. It was one of the first announcements I made as Leader of the Opposition – your ratios will be always be protected."
Mr Andrews also said that a Labor government would review the transition-to-practice graduate programs and undertake an audit of the $17,000 payments hospitals receive for employing graduates. He also promised to reinstate the committee overseeing the trial of undergraduate student employment, and the specialist Graduate Program for double degree nursing and paramedic students.
"An Andrews Labor government is also committed to reversing the sickening statistics relating to family violence which is the number one contributor to death and disability among Australian women under the age of 45," he said, recognising that nurses and midwives deal with this in their working lives and as female-dominated professions, are affected in their personal lives.
Mr Andrews said that his party would have more important health policy to announce closer to polling day.
Minister for Health and Ageing David Davis also spoke to delegates and took questions from the audience.
On the issue of the 2011 election promise of 800 new beds, Minister Davis disagreed with a question from the floor regarding the ANMF bed audit, and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data which estimates just 43 of the 800 have been delivered.
"Your figures are wrong," Mr Davis said. "To the end of the last financial year, 500 beds have been delivered and transfer times have improved."
On the issue of violence in our hospitals, Mr Davis said that he was pleased to have recently introduced a standardised Code Grey emergency response into public hospitals. ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick asked the Health Minister to change the terms for Code Grey so that relatives’ and visitors’ violence would instigate a Code Grey response, as well as patient violence. But Mr Davis told Ms Fitzpatrick to await formal correspondence from his office on the matter.