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Last week, we informed members that AMA Victoria is aware of directives from the Victorian Department of Health requiring health services to find savings. As a result, health services are implementing recruitment freezes, planning reductions in elective surgeries, and freezing new capital works programs.

Since then, we have engaged extensively with the Victorian Government to express our profound concerns about the implications of these measures. These include bed closures, service limitations, and ongoing failures to meet healthcare targets, all of which endanger patient safety, access to services, staff morale and public trust in the health system.

Victoria's health workforce recruitment and retention are particularly impacted by the Victorian Government’s budget approach, amidst a highly competitive domestic and international market for healthcare talent.

Several member accounts highlight the repercussions:

  • As a result of the proposed health services budget changes a surgeon informed AMAV that their latest quality improvement initiative was “mutilated” by budget constraints. This member cited fiscal problems and austerity measures in the health system as major factors in the decision to relocate to another area, expressing concerns about the loss of more consultants.
  • As a result of the proposed health services budget changes another doctor reported struggles within their health service to provide timely healthcare to vulnerable populations due to inadequate funding. This has resulted in severe health consequences for children on waitlists, including cases of scurvy. Additionally, unlike other regions, Victoria has not commenced immunising pregnant women against RSV, contributing to preventable disease outbreaks among infants and children.
  • As a result of the proposed health services budget changes another member informed us that the Head of Department communicated during a formal meeting of an immediate hiring freeze, affecting various positions including advertised roles in recruitment, contracts possibly not being renewed, approved sabbatical leave covers, and upcoming retirements of senior clinicians. “The statement by state government spokespeople claiming no impact on ‘front line’ services is disingenuous. All staff, including administrative, cleaning, and lab personnel, are essential to the functioning of healthcare. The budget constraints have already led to staffing shortages, affecting clinic operations. Having worked in the Victorian public health service since 2007, I believe compromising patient care due to budget cuts is unacceptable.”
  • As a result of the proposed health services budget changes a member was advised by their hospital that four recently advertised positions would no longer be filled. These roles represent four individual clinics that run weekly. “These clinics will no longer run, leaving countless patients without a paediatrician. This blanket recruitment freeze will inhibit my ability to work in the public sector as a newly fellowed paediatrician and will limit my work to private healthcare settings.”

If you have experienced similar challenges due to health services budget changes, we encourage you to share your story with us to strengthen our advocacy efforts.

Please contact Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at [email protected].

Additionally, AMA Victoria has received numerous reports from doctors whose employment ended summarily due to the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts as of 30 June 2024.

As we have noted to government, if these doctors go elsewhere, they will not return. Others have been granted a “one-month reprieve” regarding their ongoing employment and the continuation of their services, pending Departmental budget decisions.

These actions contradict the Victorian Department of Health's own acknowledgment of growing healthcare workforce demands and the critical need for retention strategies.

We continue to urgently call on the Victorian Government for clarity and reassurance for healthcare professionals and the public alike. It is imperative that the Government provides transparent guidance on budget priorities and revisits the severity of proposed cuts to maintain Victoria's healthcare standards.

We are regularly reminding the Victorian Government and the Department of Health that no Victorian can use a train line if they don’t have good health.

Health Services Plan

Beyond proposed health services budget changes, we are closely monitoring developments in the Health Services Plan, which could significantly impact Victoria's healthcare sector.  

We are eagerly awaiting the release of the report of the Ministerial Review into public hospital medical staff work and employment arrangements and furthering the outcomes of this report.

The Peninsula Health penalty hearing (Doctor In Training overtime class actions) is scheduled for later this month, and we keenly await its outcomes as well.

In these challenging times, AMA Victoria remains resolute in defending our members' interests and upholding the integrity of the health system. We encourage members to urge their non-member colleagues to join AMA Victoria/ASMOF Victoria as members to strengthen our collective efforts in protecting and supporting the Victorian health system.

If members have any concerns regarding contract renewals or breaches of their entitlements, please contact the Workplace Relations Team on (03) 9280 8722 or email [email protected].

AMAV - Peer Support Service 1300 853 338 (

Read more:

Healthcare Victoria: Elective surgery waiting lists to balloon as state demands budget cuts (

Victorian hospitals: Secret recording reveals sense of health budget crisis (

Victorian hospitals: Funding squeeze will be critical blow to state’s ailing health system (

Monash Health may cut weekend elective surgeries, beds to tackle budget cuts | Herald Sun