BY MATTHEW JOHNSTON
An extra 800 hospital beds would be installed and operated by new medical staff under a Baillieu Government.
Mr Baillieu unveiled an $800 million plan to boost beds and doctors and nurses across the state.
Over four years, 800 beds will be added to hospitals, with another 800 promised if the Coalition was to win a second term in 2014.
Coalition health spokesman David Davis said the $800 million funding pool would also provide doctors and nurses to operate them.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomed the coalition’s beds promise, saying Victoria needed a minimum of 187 extra beds a year just to maintain current service levels.
AMA Victoria president Dr Harry Hemley said more beds were sorely needed to cut waiting times for tens of thousands of emergency and elective surgery patients.
“One of the key contributors to these long waits is a shortage of beds to care for patients after their elective surgery or while they receive treatment,” he said.
But Treasurer John Lenders said Victorians could have no confidence in the opposition’s promises until its policies were independently costed.
Mr Baillieu said the money would come from forward estimates and was new money, not included in the Commonwealth health deal he may seek to re-negotiate.
The location of the beds is unknown, with Mr Baillieu promising to audit the system to find out where the need was.
“Labor has left Victoria with the lowest bed to population ratio of any state in Australia,” Mr Baillieu said.
“The Coalition is committed to slashing waiting lists and fixing the problems in our hospital system.”
Mr Baillieu also promised to deliver 800 extra beds in the second term of a Coalition Government, and to create a health plan within 150 days of the state election on November 27.
In consultation with health professionals a Coalition Government would bcreate a ‘Health Services Plan 2022’.
Earlier, Labor announced that seniors will get energy bill concessions during summer under a re-elected Brumby Government.
Premier John Brumby promised a 17.5 per cent discount for 770,000 concession card holders to help with steep summer cooling bills.
“We want to take some of the pressure off senior Victorians. We will introduce a new summer electricity concession, to build on our winter energy concession,” Mr Brumby said.
Seniors will also get stamp duty concessions when selling up their home to move somewhere smaller.
The existing stamp duty concession threshold will be lifted from $330,000 to $750,000.
This means seniors buying a median priced home worth $565,000 will save $8290.
Mr Brumby said the Government would also provide 3000 personal alert systems.
The announcements come after Labor minister Maxine Morand received a major boost in the battle to retain her ultra-marginal seat of Mount Waverley with the Greens giving her their preferences.
Despite reports that negotiations between Labor and the Greens had broken down, Green MP Greg Barber told the Herald Sun that Ms Morand will get the party’s support.
“She is the only one from the Labor side that every puts her head over the parapet and we have decided to give her our support,” he said.
The Children’s Minister is seen as very vulnerable holding the seat of Mount Waverley by just over 200 votes.
It is Labor’s most marginal seat and one the Opposition leader Ted Baillieu must capture if he is going to win government.
This comes as Labor tries to increase the pressure on the Greens to do a deal ahead of Sunday’s deadline for group voting tickets.
Mr Barber denies have struck a deal with either of the major parties.
“We hold all the cards,” he said.
“And we will make a decision when we are ready.”
Labor wants the Greens to give it preferences in the 15 most marginal Lower House seats in return for preferences in the Upper House that could deliver up to 6 seats to the Greens.
The Liberal Party is also seeking a deal that would give the Greens preferences in the inner city seats of Melbourne, Richmond, Brunswick and Northcote.