Victorian Health Minister David Davis said interstate nurses won’t be needed if mass resignations of public sector nurses go ahead.
Victoria's health system will be able to withstand any nurse resignations that may come and staff will not need to be brought in from interstate to deal with any shortfall, the state government said.
Health Minister David Davis said it would be tactically unwise to reveal the contingency plans health services and hospitals have in place to deal with the prospect of mass resignations by frustrated nurses.
But the government did not believe staff would have to be brought in from elsewhere to cope, with more than 90,000 nurses registered in Victoria.
"We are confident that from within Victoria there'll be absolutely sufficient numbers of nurses and capacity to deal with any buffeting that might occur," Davis said.
In December, a meeting of 1500 Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) members unanimously voted in favour of mass resignations, with nurses saying they were not prepared to risk their registration or duty of care if there were no guarantees of minimum staffing levels.
Davis said how many nurses would actually quit was a matter for the future.
"Just because the ANF orders or dictates that they will resign en masse, I'm not sure that nurses will necessarily do that, many nurses will not," he said.
"The ANF has said thousands will resign. We'll see what happens there.
"We're confident that we will be able to deal with resignations that might come. I'm not indicating that I think the ANF will be able to have thousands of nurses resign en masse."
The ANF's Victorian secretary, Lisa Fitzpatrick, said thousands of nurses had given her authority to indicate that they were considering their resignation, operational between February 13 and March 31.
"There are thousands of them and I am getting more and more of them each day," Fitzpatrick said.
"The main concern is the loss of nurse-to-patient ratios and the budget cuts."
Fitzpatrick said union officers would meet with nurses and midwives and, later in March when the meetings are complete, the members would consider whether they wished to pursue their resignations.
Nurses who were considering resignation would happily work casually in the public sector and would be paid more, but hospitals would be shelling out sometimes up to three times the cost, she said.
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews called on the government to reveal the nature and cost of its contingency plans, saying Victorians deserved to know.
"The health minister and the government indicate they don't want to telegraph the plans they've made," Andrews said.
"That's just a nice way of saying they prefer to keep secret how much these replacement nurses will cost, where they'll come from, what their skills will be, what they'll get paid."
Nurses are seeking an 18.5 per cent pay rise over three years and eight months while the government is offering a 2.5 per cent annual rise, with any further increases to be offset by productivity measures.
AAPDo you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]