Decades of health worker shortages in Mildura are crippling the region’s ability to get on top of long delays for surgery.
Today in State Parliament, Health Minister Martin Foley was unable to say just how many sick Victorians are stuck on the state’s health waitlist, despite predictions there’s now more than 100,000 people whose surgery has been delayed.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said shortages of health professionals in rural communities and problems with access to care existed long before the pandemic.
“Attracting and retaining health specialists in rural communities has always been a challenge, but the failure to plan to build up Victoria’s health workforce left us in dire straits when the pandemic hit,” Mr Walsh said.
“The pandemic didn’t create the problems in Mildura, it just worsened the pressure that was already there.
“Labor’s been in state government for 19 of the past 23 years, Daniel Andrews is a former Health Minister, yet they’ve ignored the need to get more GPs, nurses, mental health practitioners and health specialists into regional Victoria.
“Only a change in government in November will deliver a proactive approach to relieving rural GP shortages in the long-term and recruiting a sustainable health workforce for the future.”
The Nationals in Federal government are proactively working to solve rural shortages.
This includes financial incentives on university fees for GPs or nurses who choose to work – and live – in communities like Mildura, Ouyen, Murrayville or Robinvale.
This week, ahead of World Health Day on April 7, Mr Walsh is pushing for a plan to revive the health workforce in the future.
“Local people are best placed to identify solutions to unique local issues,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Mildura community is taking an active role in planning for the future of local healthcare by putting up proactive ideas to train more health professionals in the region and to retain those trainees in the long-term.
“But nothing has happened because Mildura has been forgotten by city-centric State Labor that can’t see beyond Melbourne’s tram tracks.”