Victoria opposition pledges 40,000 nurses in $325m healthcare plan

Victoria opposition pledges 40,000 nurses in $325m healthcare plan

The Victorian opposition has pledged to train 40,000 nurses as part of a $325 million plan if it wins the election in November, as part of the pre-election healthcare bidding war.

Victoria's fraying healthcare system will remain firmly at the centre of the election campaign, as the opposition and government trade blows on the hotly contested political battleground.

The plan would see 18,000 new and upskilled nurses and midwives in the public and private systems, on top of the 22,000 already pledged by the Labor Government.

Hundreds of thousands of scholarships are offered to make nursing courses free of cost.

The plan promises 25,000 scholarships to cover HECS fees for nursing and midwifery students who join both the private and public sector. A pledge from Andrews only covers those who join the public sector.

There are ten thousand scholarships available for existing nurses and midwives who want to improve their skills.

Before COVID there were real shortages in our health system, especially around the number of nurses. Over the last two and half years, nurses have done a lot of the work we need to recruit, retrain and recognise that, according to opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier.

This is about supporting nurses, upskilling nurses so they can work to the best scope of practice and enable them to be supported in that work. The opposition says it will fund the plan, along with other healthcare commitments, by scrapping the planned Suburban Rail Loop between Cheltenham and Box Hill.

The plan also provides for the immediate recruitment of 5,000 new nurses and midwives 2,000 other healthcare workers, as well as establishing a new visa subclass for international workers.

If the government wins, the opposition says it will establish a ministerial healthcare council to address issues in emergency and pandemic response, recruitment, rural staffing and affordable accommodation for healthcare workers.

According to a recently released government skills plan, Victoria needs more than 65,000 healthcare and community services workers to meet demand and replace people who are retiring.

Experts have previously questioned whether the government's commitment to make nursing courses free will lead to increased student numbers, despite the fact that university courses are already running close to capacity.

The opposition promises to upgrade hospitals across the state and tackle other issues in the healthcare system are among the things that the opposition has promised to do.

Labor and the Coalition have announced almost $15 billion worth of proposed spending in the healthcare sector.