Constituency question: My constituency question is for the Minister for Health. Healthcare workers in the private health system have shared with me that they felt very left out in that they were not included in the healthcare worker winter retention and surge payments of $3000 recently announced by the Victorian government. Throughout the pandemic there has been a partnership between the Victorian government and private hospitals to assist public hospitals by taking public patients when necessary, and this has certainly happened in Shepparton between Goulburn Valley Health and Shepparton Private Hospital. It has also assisted the state government to get through elective surgery backlogs. One medical employee said she often worked late, did extra shifts and was called back to make sure public patients received the services they needed in the private system. She did this because she cares about the health of everyone in the community, not whether they are public or private, and feels that it is unfair that the $3000 was not extended to them. Will the minister consider extending this payment to private sector employees?
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge and thank all the healthcare workers involved with supporting the public health response during the COVID-19 pandemic, including all staff working within the private sector. Our partnerships with the private hospitals have greatly supported the response.
The Healthcare Worker Winter Retention and Surge Payment program is targeted at public sector healthcare workers to incentivise current staff to stay working in public health services and attract those who have recently taken other roles outside the state funded services.
The Victorian State Government does not control the wages and conditions of staff employed by private providers and through third party employers. As such, the Healthcare Worker Winter Retention and Surge Payment does not extend to employees in these settings and is a matter for those providers.
The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP
Minister for Health
Minister for Ambulance Services