Nurse, midwife pay deal could 'rebuild health system'

A new wage deal for Victorian nurses and midwives could offer a stable foundation for the state's struggling health system, the union says.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation members will vote on a 28.5 per cent wage increase over four years on Wednesday, Victorian branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said.

"We believe this offer protects our current career structure and will significantly help to retain and recruit a permanent nursing and midwifery workforce and rebuild our health system," Ms Fitzpatrick said.

An emergency sign is seen outside of Box Hill Hospital
Victoria's health system has been struggling with staff shortages, burnout and budget deficits. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)

The offer came after intensive talks between the union, health department representatives and the Allan government after 48 days of industrial action including hospital bed closures that began on May 7.

Union members will meet on Wednesday in Melbourne and eight satellite venues in regional hubs across the state to vote on the in-principle deal, which also requires cabinet approval.

On May 20, members rejected an offer including government wages policy of 12 per cent, cash bonuses and a gender equity increase of between 5.5 and 13.3 per cent, which came after the union closed one-in-four hospital beds and delayed elective surgeries in statewide industrial action.

While the previous offer was rejected due to a number of uncertainties, all non-wage-related conditions, allowances and penalties had been retained in the new deal, the union said.

Victoria's health system has been struggling with staff shortages, burnout and hospital budget deficits, and pre-budget funding indications have prompted the opposition to accuse the government of a "secret plan" to amalgamate health services.

"The priorities of the Allan Labor government are all wrong when they are funnelling hundreds of billions of dollars into the suburban rail link at the cost of our hospitals right across the state," opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said.

"These savage budget cuts will see a loss of services and a loss of jobs."

Ms Crozier has referred the matter to Auditor-General Andrew Greaves for a full audit of state health services.

Environment and Tourism Minister Steve Dimopoulos welcomed the in-principle agreement for nurses as "hopeful", and dismissed claims of health service cuts as alarmist.

"This happens every year, whether it be my portfolio with sports agencies, or the health portfolio with health services," Mr Dimopoulos told reporters in Melbourne.

"The government ... drafts a budget,  the hospital has a conversation, has deliberations and comes back to the minister with a view and from that a final budget is determined."

Mr Dimopoulos would not be drawn on potential job cuts in the health sector, and differed to the relevant minister Mary-Anne Thomas.

"No final budget has been set yet," he said.