Victoria’s health budget could be slashed by more than $800 million over the next four years if the Baillieu Government goes ahead with its reckless plan to cut the equivalent of 1758 nurses from Victoria’s health system, Opposition Health Spokesman, Gavin Jennings said today.
In Parliament today, the Health Minister, David Davis, acknowledged any savings found to pay a wage increase for nurses will be in addition to the $443 million* cut to health expenditure over the next four years projected in this year’s State Budget.
Mr Davis’s admission follows publication of a leaked cabinet document outlining the Baillieu Government’s plan to cut nurse patient ratios and replace nurses with cheaper nurse assistants resulting in cuts of about $400 million over four years.
“The Baillieu Government came to office promising to deliver an additional 800 new beds for Victorian hospitals,” Mr Jennings said.
“But Mr Davis has refused to say where the beds will go. And now we know why.
“He has no intention of delivering any new beds. New beds cost money and Mr Davis has admitted today the government is seeking to rip out more than $800 million from the health system.
“In addition to the $443 million in budgeted health savings he plans to cut a further $400 million by getting rid of nurses.
“It’s simple maths. You can’t deliver more beds with less money.”
Mr Jennings said the Baillieu Government must drop its aggressive industrial relations strategy and start negotiating with nurses in good faith.
“Mr Davis needs to explain how fewer nurses will result in better health care for Victorians,” he said.
“The planned cuts come as health professionals across Victoria are all saying the same thing – Victoria’s hospital system has never been as bad as this.”
*From 2011-12 to 2014-15. Total health budget cuts inMayStateBudget including 2010-11 are $486.9 million.