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State asked to help with health workforce shortage

The State Government is being asked to do more to help Gippsland hospitals and health services deal with workforce shortages.

This week in Parliament, The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien called on the Andrews Labor Government to development a workforce recruitment program in response to shortages affecting patient care in towns across the region.

Mr O’Brien said that while this was not an issue restricted to Gippsland, he was concerned at the lack of State Government support for filling health workforce vacancies.

“We have a number of pockets in Gippsland where there are significant problems,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Whether its trouble attracting GPs to Yarram or midwives and nurses to places like Leongatha and indeed specialist shortages in other places, like a lack of paediatricians in Sale, I have been contacted by constituents on a number of these issues. Recently we saw the Leongatha hospital have to temporarily close its midwifery services due to shortages of staff.

“The Yarram community has been grappling for a number of years now to attract and retain qualified GPs and this is having an impact on the broader community and the levels of patient care.

“I know our local hospitals and health services are working extremely hard to recruit the staff they need, but it is very difficult for them to find people ready to take some of these jobs.

“The Nationals took a policy to develop a rural health workforce strategy to the last election, but Labor did not match that commitment.

“This is something that the Victorian Healthcare Association has been calling for, for a number of years and I know the Pharmacy Guild of Australia also has concerns about attracting and retaining pharmacists in rural areas.

“I’m calling on the Health Minister to work with our local hospitals to help fill the shortages, as well as working with the Commonwealth to address the need for training and incentives to get medical professionals into rural areas.”

Mr O’Brien said the Andrews Labor Government was spending billions of dollars on services and infrastructure in the city, but not paying enough attention to country health services.

“I am pleased to see another round of funding under the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund which has already supported Yarram District Health Service, South Gippsland Hospital and Central Gippsland Health, but with the infrastructure must come the staff and this is something the government needs to work with the Commonwealth, local hospitals and the community to improve.”

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