House debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Hospitals

2:36 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | Hansard source

I would respectfully correct the member for Macarthur. I respect his work in the community, but on this occasion he's wrong. The program for upskilling additional nurses began in February last year. Through that process we have seen approximately 20,000 nurses who are skilled in ICU. We've seen many other nurses who've been brought back to the system. The approach for protecting, preserving and strengthening the hospital system was laid out in February last year in Australian health sector emergency response plan for novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

We're assisting in five particular ways. One, of course, is in terms of the specific training of nurses, including the upskilling to ICU. That was commenced not just a year ago; it was 18 months ago. In relation to that, we're also assisting, secondly, with beds, thirdly, with ventilators, fourthly, with funding and, fifthly, with PPE. To run through those, the private hospitals partnership agreement, or what is known as the private hospitals viability guarantee, creates a national partnership. It brings 30,000 beds, 57,000 nurses and over 100,000 staff into a partnership which can be drawn upon by any of the states and territories. At this stage, New South Wales has activated that and now has over 19 hospitals in partnership. They are able to draw upon beds, nursing staff, general staff, ICU availability and ventilator capacity. In addition to that, the Commonwealth is able to provide and has provided through the National Medical Stockpile, gloves, gowns, goggles, surgical masks and N-95 masks. All of these have been activated.


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