With everything that is going on in the federal parliament it is easy to overlook the fact that Victorians will be going to the polls to elect a new state government in November. In fact the election is now only 29 days away.
There have been real improvements having a Labor Government, particularly in relation to negotiating a new public health sector agreement.
There are really great outcomes in our new public sector agreement that a Liberal government would have never approved and would have held up indefinitely. For example, improvements in annual leave entitlements, rostering protocols, backfill provisions and establishing a pharmacist leave relief pool would been opposed by a Liberal government.
On the minus side, nothing much has been done to end the outsourcing of vital clinical services to private providers started under Liberal state governments. With the exception of the Northern Hospital, instead of services like pathology laboratories coming back in house the Andrews Government has allowed services to keep their outsourced arrangements in place despite the dangers it presents to patients’ well-being and care they receive. And as a result of outsourcing we’ve seen increases in complaints about lengthy turn-around times for test results, increases in errors in labelling of samples, and increases in new samples being needed because samples have spoiled.
We’ve seen increasing problems dealing with the mental health crisis as problems become more complicated with fewer staff available despite the funding put towards mental health; and pharmacists are expected to take on more responsibilities without any increases in staff resources. All of this adds more stress and pressure onto staff putting them at risk of work stress related illness and injury which ultimately impacts on the quality of healthcare patients receive.
These are clear symptoms that the private provider model in healthcare is fundamentally flawed and will only lead to further diminution in the clinical standards of healthcare provided. There’s also international research to back up our assertions that clinical services like pathology laboratories are better off in the hospital rather than located hundreds of kilometres away.
But there’s always a way things can get worse, much worse
One way things are guaranteed to get worse is if Matthew Guy and the LNP get to do to public health what LNP governments do if they’re elected to the government benches. So far the LNP have not outlined their plan for healthcare for Victorians which is concerning with the election only days away. When the LNP were last in government we saw funding for public health stagnate and we should assume this will be the case again given the LNP have not released their policy on health. Under the LNP there was no additional funding put into public health and they outsourced vital clinical services.
It says a lot about the LNP’s priorities when they refuse to detail how they’ll make Victorians health better but expect us to vote for them. They haven’t committed to increasing funding for public health, hospitals or community health centres; they haven’t committed to increasing funding to better deal with the mental health needs of Victorians; and they haven’t committed to increasing pharmacist numbers to handle increasing workloads, responsibilities and demands.
They haven’t even committed to funding for any new hospitals either.
There is no way that a Matthew Guy government would ever approve the conditions we’ve won in our latest round of public sector bargaining. And we know that under a Guy government outsourcing of vital clinical services is a given.
With the rapid growth in demand for health and health-related services, without substantial investments in our public health system we may find our system unable to cope as workloads explode. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that this election is the health election.