Tuesday, 20 December 2022

Questions without notice

Healthcare workers

Steve McGHIE, Mary-Anne THOMAS

Healthcare workers

Steve McGHIE (Melton) (16:32): My question is for the Minister for Health. Can the minister please indicate how the government is supporting our incredible health workers to deliver the best care close to home for sick Victorians?

Mary-Anne THOMAS (Macedon – Leader of the House, Minister for Health, Minister for Health Infrastructure, Minister for Medical Research) (16:33): Can I thank the member for Melton for his question and can I congratulate him for the way in which he continues to serve the community of Melton, who endorsed his representation at the most recent election. Indeed it has been my pleasure to be able to work closely with the member for Melton, as our electorates abut one another. I spent a great afternoon with the member for Melton talking about the Melton hospital – the hospital that our government is going to build in the Melton shopping centre, and let me tell you –

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! Member for Melton, I want to hear the minister’s response.

Mary-Anne THOMAS: Let me tell you that the people of Melton trust one side of politics, and one side only, to deliver the healthcare infrastructure that our community needs. Of course the member for Melton, as is well known, is a former paramedic himself, so he knows better than anyone else here in this place the dedication and skill of our fantastic healthcare workforce. He also knows that our healthcare workers deserve to be respected. They know that only one side of politics will ever treat them with the respect that they deserve, and that is our side of the house, the Labor government, who our healthcare workers have backed in to work with them again as we continue to build and grow our health system here in Victoria. Of course it is our workers who are the backbone of the health system, and it is our government who has backed in healthcare workers at every opportunity, unlike some others.

Jacinta Allan: Do tell!

Mary-Anne THOMAS: Unlike some others – those on the other side of the house. Let me tell you this: every time that those on the other side of the house criticised and attacked the health system, they were attacking healthcare workers, and healthcare workers knew it.

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will come to order. I want to hear the Minister for Health’s response.

Mary-Anne THOMAS: Thank you, Speaker, thank you. I am enormously proud that our government is making it free to study nursing and midwifery. Our package will see an additional 17,000 nurses and other healthcare workers recruited and trained into our system. We are delivering of course a $5000 sign-on bonus for graduate nurses and midwives who come to join us and choose to work in the public hospital system. We are improving nurse- and midwife-to-patient ratios in the busiest areas of our hospitals, including in emergency departments, in ICUs and in postnatal wards. We are expanding our dedicated aged care nursing in-reach teams so that more aged care residents can get the health care that they need without needing to attend an ED.

We know that after nine years of neglect by the previous federal Liberal government our primary healthcare system is under real pressure because we saw a failure to invest in Medicare, a failure to understand that we had a GP crisis on our hands. What our government has done is step into the primary health space in order to do all that we can to ensure that Victorians have access to the health care that we need. We are working to build our GP workforce with a $32 million package, a plan to incentivise doctors to take up general practice as their specialty, and of course, in partnership with the New South Wales government – the New South Wales Liberal government – we are delivering 50 priority primary care centres, because when we see a system that is broken, we step in to fix it.

What is more, the people of our state have endorsed the Andrews Labor government and our plan of action. I know that the member for Melton will also be extremely pleased to know that our government will be investing in our hardworking paramedics, training and employing more MICA paramedics and introducing paramedic practitioner roles.

I think it is pretty clear that when it comes to supporting healthcare workers, when it comes to growing our healthcare workforce and when it comes to providing pathways and opportunities for healthcare workers in order to be able to deliver the very best care to all Victorians, there is only one side of politics that can be trusted to deliver that, and that is this side of politics. It is the Andrews Labor government that will keep working hard and delivering every day for the people of Victoria.