SYDNEY, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Australia's state of Victoria is recruiting and training a massive number of healthcare workers to cope with staff shortage partly due to COVID-19.
Under the initiative announced by the Victorian government on Sunday, more than 17,000 nurses and midwives will be recruited and trained for the state's healthcare system.
More than 10,000 students will have the cost of their nursing or midwifery undergraduate studies paid for, while scholarships will be available for thousands more who complete postgraduate studies in areas of need including intensive care, cancer care, paediatrics and nurse practitioner specialties.
All new domestic students enrolling in a professional-entry nursing or midwifery course in 2023 and 2024 will receive a scholarship of up to 16,500 Australian dollars (about 11,297 U.S. dollars) to cover course costs.
Students will receive 9,000 Australian dollars (about 6,162 U.S. dollars) while they study and the remaining 7,500 Australian dollars (about 5,135 U.S. dollars) if they work in Victorian public health services for two years.
More midwives will also join the workforce through an expanded postgraduate midwifery incentive program, with scholarships and salary support. It will help them continue working while having their specialist studies in midwifery.
"Every health system in the country is under enormous pressure due to the pandemic. The best thing we can do is to support our hardworking staff and give them more support on the ground, that's why this package will train and hire more nurses than ever before," said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
According to a report issued by the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) last month, GP clinics, hospitals and ambulance services in the state were struggling with staff shortages and being overwhelmed by demand.
The public health system was juggling thousands of people needing care for flu and COVID-19, alongside the many thousands of people who needed emergency care for other reasons every day.
Many hospitals have also been running at an unprecedented capacity level to clear the elective surgery backlog due to COVID-19 restrictions since the pandemic began.
On Monday, Victoria reported 2,147 cases and four deaths from the virus. There were 343 COVID-related hospitalizations and 22 in intensive care units.
"You can't deliver a health system with empty hospitals, which is why we are investing in hard-working nurses and midwives that are helping Victorian patients every single day," said Victorian Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas. ■