Building continues in nursing and midwifery workforce, mental health and aged care

The Andrews Government 2019-20 state budget continues to build Victoria’s health, mental health, community and aged care services.

It’s all about more nurses, midwives, maternal and child health nurses and more public mental health and aged care beds.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said ‘The Andrews Government has delivered on its promises to nurses and midwives and is making significant investments in maternal and child health, public aged care, public acute general and mental health and the nursing and midwifery workforce.

The budget includes $81.6 million for a new 120-bed public residential aged care service in Wantirna, including 60-high care beds and 60 mental health care beds. This comes on top of a new 90-bed aged care facility in Kew due for completion later this year

‘Victoria continues to lead the way as the only state building public residential aged care, including an important focus on residents who need geriatric mental health care,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

‘We’re also really pleased the Andrews Government is not just waiting for the outcome of the mental health royal commission and continues to invest in services and programs,’ she said.

The budget provides $28.7 million over two years to give more than 7000 people access to earlier care and support through additional clinical mental health services in the community.

Another $23.3 million will be spent on 28 inpatient mental health beds.

The Andrews Government will spend about $9 million to support 30 registered nurses to undertake mental health postgraduate studies for mental health nursing transition positions over the next two years. These positions are in addition to the scholarships provided under the 2016 Victorian public sector mental health nurses enterprise agreement.

There will also be almost $8 million for programs to support Aboriginal Victorians with severe mental illness.

There is a $117.8 million investment to employ more nurses and midwives for the first phase of the Andrews Government’s new and improved ratios which will deliver better patient care through increased staffing levels on each shift where they apply.

The first ratio improvements will be seen this year with the removal of a rostering rule that allowed hospitals to round down nursing and midwifery numbers when the number of beds was not easily divisible by the legislated ratio.

This will occur in all level 1 and 2 hospitals in: general medical and surgical wards, coronary care units, high dependency units, operating theatres, post-anaesthestic recovery rooms, and level 1 emergency departments.

Staffing levels will also increase 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.

Recognising you cannot create more nursing and midwifery jobs without developing the workforce, the Andrews Government will spend $20 million in 2019-20 as it kicks off the first installment of its $50 million nursing and midwifery workforce development fund.

‘This budget provides almost half of the promised $50 million workforce development fund in the first year so we can really get a head start on educating the extra nurses and midwives we’ll need as we implement improved and new ratios,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

The fund will create additional graduate places, scholarships and refresher programs in metropolitan and regional Victorian. This is on top of the free TAFE nursing diploma courses for enrolled nurses which started this year.

New parents and their children will benefit from a $213.6 million investment in new parenting centres. More maternal and health nurses will be employed to visit new parents and assist parents who call the maternal and child health line.

‘Victoria’s well-qualified and experienced maternal and child health nurses are well placed to give new parents the support they need and to identify when they need access to services and intervention giving babies the best start in life,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

‘Nurses and midwives also welcome the Andrews Government’s compassionate decision to give asylum seekers, waiting for confirmation of refugee status, access to mental and physical health support with a $3 million investment to plug the gap following the Federal Government’s cuts to these programs,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

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