Australia

Victoria to dole out $3,000 bonus payments for public healthcare workers but no extra cash for private staff

Victorian nurses, midwives, doctors and paramedics will be handed $3,000 in bonus payments as part of the government’s $353 million package to attract and retain them in the state’s strained health system
However, private health workers will not be included in the move, prompting unions to push for a separate payment for those workers.

All staff working in public hospitals and ambulance services will be offered the cash and free meals as the sector braces for a busy winter plagued by more COVID-19 and flu cases.

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To be eligible, workers must be employed in the state’s public health service by 1 July and still be employed on 30 September. The first $1,500 payment will be made on 15 August and the second at the end of September.
“This is all about encouraging people to take up shifts if they can, to go from being part-time to maybe working some further hours,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Thursday.
“It’s also about bringing people back into the system. It’s also a fundamental acknowledgement of the extreme pressure, the really significant challenge that there is in our health system at the moment.”

Former Royal Australasian College of Physicians president John Wilson recently raised worker burnout and falling care standards as major problems confronting the health sector.

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Thousands of Victorian staff in both clinical and non-clinical roles will be provided with the bonus payments, including those working in cleaning, food services and laundry services.
Royal Melbourne Hospital nurse unit manager Susan Harding said healthcare workers endured “dark days” over the COVID-19 pandemic and the cash was recognition of their hard work and stress.

“Every staff member that we work with … they go home to a family,” she said.

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“It was really confronting hoping we were making good decisions to get them home safely at the end of the day while we were watching mass graves being dug overseas.”
However, workers in Victoria’s private health system won’t get the extra cash. Lisa Fitzpatrick, Victorian branch secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, said the union would write to private acute care providers to push for a separate payment for those workers.
“It’s time that the private acute care employers stepped up and recognised their amazing staff in the way that the state government has done,” she said.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the $3,000 payments were a good move and well deserved.

“Now let’s give health workers and all Victorians the health system they deserve – not one underfunded and mismanaged,” he tweeted.

A similar one-off payment was announced for paramedics, midwives, cleaners and all other permanent NSW health service staff on Monday, and Mr Andrews said the state government have been in discussions.

The Australian College of Nursing has called for tax-free COVID-19 bonus payments for nurses across the country.

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