Public hospitals in Victoria may experience a shortage of nursing staff as they begin rolling stoppages from today (February 24).
The Victorian branch of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) announced that three hospitals will take part in the industrial action, with additional facilities also to join in the coming days.
Nurses from The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Dandenong Hospital and Western Hospital in Footscray walked off the job for four hours on Friday morning.
The daily stoppages – up to four hours for each of the morning and afternoon shifts – are expected to continue indefinitely.
According to ANF Victoria secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick, the plan outlined by premier Ted Baillieu would give the government the right to override nurse-to-patient ratios.
"[It is] absolutely critical that nurses and the community understand what he [Baillieu] is trying to achieve," she told the ABC today.
Private health insurance offers policyholders the opportunity to avoid extended waiting times caused by industrial action by attending a private hospital.
Victorian nurses have also requested an 18.5 per cent pay rise over three years and guaranteed staffing levels or nurse-patient ratios – 16 per cent higher than the government's current offer.
The next hospitals to join the stoppages will be announced on Saturday morning, February 25.