Council nurse advocacy continues


By Laura Michell

Melton council is continuing to advocate for the state government to address a shortage of maternal and child health (MCH) nurses, which has forced council to limit appointments to babies aged up to eight weeks old and vulnerable children.

As reported by Star Weekly, council wrote to parents in June, stating that the MCH nurse service had been temporarily paused” for infants aged four months and older, with all existing appointments cancelled, amid a workforce shortage.

At the time, council told Star Weekly it had the equivalent of 14 full-time nurses and require 12 more to be able to provide a full service.

A report to the September 12 council meeting outlined council’s advocacy to the government in a bid to recruit more nurses.

The report stated that Melton’s soaring birth rate and the COVID-19 pandemic were exacerbating the shortage.

“The City of Melton received 3070 birth notices in 2021-22, compared to 2765 in the previous year. The total number of infant records increased to 17,212 at the end of June, compared to 16,809 the previous year, placing increased demand on existing services,” the report stated.

“Immediately prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Melton Universal MCH service was almost fully staffed. Since then, some nurses have retired, some nurses have resigned for a variety of lifestyle reasons and some nurses have reduced their working hours also for a variety of lifestyle reasons.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the City of Melton MCH service in terms of the additional time required to meet health and hygiene standards … along with staff availability.”

According to the report, council’s short-term advocacy priorities include seeking incentives for nurses to reskill as MCH nurses, funding for tertiary places to train Melton residents to become MCH nurses, full scholarships for eligible nurses and the extension of the government’s $3000 payment to healthcare workers to MCH nurses and support staff.

Cr Sophie Ramsey welcomed the council’s advocacy efforts.

“My youngest daughter’s disability would never had been picked up if it wasn’t for the maternal and child health nurse between the ages of six month and 18 months,” she said.

“I urge everybody out there … every government official out there… to get behind this because there is a gap a void.”