Is there a doctor in the house?

GETTING READY TO SERVE… GV Health major upgrade is well under way. Now the challenge is to find the staff to man it. Photo Steve Hutcheson

The new building additions currently standing out in the skyline at GV Health are likely to radically alter the capabilities of the hospital to fully service the needs of a growing Goulburn Valley community. But, as the infrastructure develops, the need to provide and increase the range of a functioning workforce grows with it.

According to current estimates, some 500 to 600 additional positions, nurses, doctors, medical administrators, social workers and subsidiary specialists and the like will be required to service the capacity of the new buildings, not just at GV Health but at other facilities coming on line such as the Genesis radiation therapy centre and the growing number of clinics around the city.

One only has to look at the employment sections of print and online advertisements for the region to see that almost half of the positions being advertised are for health and welfare related professionals.

Elizabeth Capp, head of Latrobe University Shepparton Campus said, “This is something everyone is conscious of. We recently met with the Minister for Health in Canberra to discuss our current needs.”

Latrobe University is about to add an extension to their building that will enable them to increase the number of students through their doors. In 2019 they graduated 63 Bachelor of Nursing students while they were able to intake 56 new students.

“We have more students applying than we are able to accommodate. We expect this will substantially increase when the extensions are complete in 2022. In conjunction with our faculty in Bendigo as well as with the GOTAFE and Melbourne University, we are looking at all the options available.

“Along with Melbourne University, we are developing a program that should add capacity to creating new doctors, It is particularly aimed at regional students and of course, they need to be high achievers with a good solid academic record. GV Health are looking at on-site training programs for some areas in administration and support roles but overall, filling the demand will be a huge challenge for the town. There is a need to draw the attention of practitioners from the city, however they need the social infrastructure, access to schools of choice, local transport and the like. The new super school will be a game changer in many ways, solving some of these problems.”

Notwithstanding, there is going to be a great need for new medical and support staff in all areas of practice if the new facilities are to be fully utilised as intended and while the institutes can produce them, there is likely to be a lag between the time the facilities are complete and the full complement of staff can be secured.