Victoria has pledged $2.5 million to bring back up to 1000 healthcare workers from overseas in a drastic move to help the state’s struggling health system.
Victoria Health Minister Martin Foley made the announcement on Tuesday after the state recorded 1,466 new Covid infections and eight deaths — the second consecutive day infections have declined.
Mr Foley said the move will “ease the pressure on our hard-working hospital staff dealing with Covid”.
“The group will largely be made up of returning Australians who have wanted to come back to our healthcare workforce,” he said.
“These professional groups covered nurses, doctors, midwives and a range of allied health professionals, and they will be recruited on the basis of the services and support that our hospital system needs.”
Eligible applicants must have an existing employment contract with a Victorian health service, an active professional registration and be ready to travel, he said.
The health minister said the extra support was needed due to a “record number” of patients in hospitals and ambulance services.
There are currently 675 Victorians in hospital with Covid-19, of whom 144 are in ICU and 100 on a ventilator.
The fresh recruitment drive comes after another 130 healthcare workers were added into the health system since August.
Mr Foley also announced $255 million to support frontline health workers, with an “allowance” for frontline staff of up to $60 per shift, until February 2022.
“Those frontline hospital Covid-facing workforces that have been not only dealing with these demands for some months, will now, as we move into a very, very busy period, have to deal with the surge that we will see in cases in our healthcare and hospital system,” he said.
"Starting this week, the allowance will help ensure that these highly skilled staff in our public hospitals respond to the critical care that we know they will deliver, but making sure that staff in our emergency departments is at least supported.
"This unprecedented investment directly into those frontline carers and workforce healthcare professionals is in response to the unprecedented times we are in. Really, the challenges that they are dealing with on our behalf require this unprecedented response. "
State officials said they expect Covid cases and the number of people being hospitalised to increase once Victoria hits its vaccination targets and end its most recent lockdown.
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