The Victorian Greens have called on the state government to provide a salary top-up for clinical staff in public hospitals who are providing hands-on care to patients over the next six months.
There are currently around 500 COVID cases in Victorian hospitals, a number which has doubled in ten days and will double again. Our hospitals are under more pressure than at any time in our history, and ambulance ramping has already been reported at more than one hospital.
That’s why the Greens want a ‘COVID-19 recognition bonus’ of $9,000 paid over six months to staff earning up to $90,000 per year, to financially recognise work on the frontline, as well as to help retain nurses in hospitals and attract others who have been lost to vaccination hubs.
The recognition payment would be paid in instalments until the end of February 2022, with a sliding scale providing a smaller recognition payment for those earning above $90,000.
Victoria is seriously short of nurses right now, with many working in vaccination hubs and testing sites which are pulling staff away from the wards. As a result hospitals are having to make do with double shifts, team nursing and recruiting allied health workers to help.
We know that caring for COVID patients is physically and emotionally unrelenting work. Patients are cut off from families, relatives are distraught and can be very demanding. N95 masks are stifling and extra infection control procedures and documentation add to the burden.
Providing bonuses to clinical staff who provide hands-on care to patients, like nurses, mental health nurses and paramedics, is the least the government can do.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens health spokesperson, Dr Tim Read:
“It’s crunch time for our hospital system and Victorians would like to offer more than applause and clichés to the nurses and other clinical staff who are sweating under PPE.
“This is something meaningful that we can offer and we hope it attracts more staff to the wards where we need them more than we ever have.”