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'Compromised' system spurs Vic doc to quit

By Callum Godde
Martin Foley has urged authorities to speed up clearance processes for international health workers. (AAP)

A top Victorian doctor has quit his job in protest at mounting staff burnout and falling care standards after two torrid years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outgoing Royal Australasian College of Physicians president John Wilson has departed Melbourne's Alfred hospital, citing "compromised" standard of care in the public health sector.

"The tipping point really has come when we have been asked to commit to levels of care that we are unable to achieve," he told reporters on Thursday.

Professor Wilson, who headed The Alfred's treatment of patients with lung disorders, said federal and state governments had not listened to concerns of those at the coalface.

"Someone had to make a stand," he said.

"David Morrison, the head of the army, once said: 'The standard you walk past is the standard you accept'. I'm sorry. I don't accept that standard."

Emergency physician and former Australian Medical Association president Dr Stephen Parnis last week said burnout had prompted him to take three months leave.

An RACP survey released in November last year found 87 per cent of its members were worried about burnout.

Prof Wilson, who is not retiring altogether, admitted he wasn't sure whether he was burnt out and said that was part of the problem.

"If you don't know when you're burnt out, you could be working in a very dangerous situation," he said.

He is calling for a "crisis summit" between doctors, nurses, politicians and government health agencies to improve care standards.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said the government would work with medical colleges and the AMA to ramp up the use of "existing resources" and recruit more staff.

"I dispute that that's not happening right now. It is happening but it needs to happen at an even greater level," he said.

The state budget, delivered last week, included a commitment to train and hire 7000 healthcare workers as part of a $12 billion health pledge.

Mr Foley has urged the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and federal immigration authorities to fast-track clearance processes for international health workers, akin to the agricultural industry.

"Whoever forms government after the 21st of May must unblock that pipeline as soon as possible," he said.

However, Professor Wilson questioned the ethics of poaching doctors from countries facing their own healthcare battles and said it would take time for them to meet Australian training and accreditation standards.

"That won't happen overnight."

Meanwhile, Mr Foley and Premier Daniel Andrews have dodged questions about whether they've read a report into the state's ailing triple zero call service after multiple people died while waiting for an ambulance.

The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority report, led by ex-Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton, was received by Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes more than a month ago and will be released before June 30.

Mr Andrews told reporters he has been "briefed" on the report and it informed the government's $241 million budget pledge to hire another 280-odd ESTA staff, while Mr Foley declined to say if he had read or been briefed on its contents.

"It is an outright disgrace that the premier and health minister haven't bothered to read the Ashton report while Victorians have died waiting for an ambulance," opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said.

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Dive Deeper:
Health sector 'completely congested' as emergency wait times blow out
Victorian Ambulance Union secretary says “the smaller country towns are actually the ones that suffer the most".
Calls to streamline immigration process for health professionals to address 'serious' worker shortage
Medical bodies say red tape and an overly complicated visa process is deterring talented workers from moving to Australia.
Review launched into death of Amrita Lanka after parents claim their concerns were ignored
Amrita Lanka died 21 hours after being admitted to Monash Children's Hospital, with her parents claiming their concerns were ignored…
Calls for changes to Victorian hospital policies following death of 8yo Melbourne girl
Amrita Lanka's story triggers calls for change in the health policy, with families now sharing their own horror experiences in…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Stormont stalemate risks patients’ lives, medical leaders warn
Healthcare organisations say failure to form an executive on Friday could worsen Northern Ireland’s NHS crisis
Vic girl's death sparks hospital review
A Victorian hospital is being reviewed after a young girl died while receiving treatment at the hospital for stomach pains.
Get all your news in one place