Victoria will invest $1.5 billion to address its growing elective surgery waitlist as part of a catch-up scheme that will see surgical capacity increased by a quarter.
The COVID Catch-Up Plan is designed to raise capacity to 125 per cent by 2023, with 40,000 additional surgeries to take place in the next year.
"We know that COVID, twice, has hit elective surgeries hard," Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters on Sunday.
"This plan will see record numbers of Victorians get the surgeries they need, while making sure our frontline workforce is supported."
Victoria's non-urgent surgery waitlists have blown out due to COVID restrictions over the past two years.
Category two and three procedures were suspended in January, with 80,000 people waiting as of the last update in December.
Mr Merlino said an additional 16,000 surgeries beyond current capacity would be performed by year's end.
The state government will fund the $1.5 billion hospital package alone after the federal government decided not to include a provision in last week's budget.
"We asked the Commonwealth for support for this initiative and they have refused, nevertheless we are going ahead with it," Mr Merlino said.
Frankston Private Hospital will be transformed into a public surgery centre with capacity to support up to 9000 public patients per year from 2023. Two new theatres will boost services from early next year and provide more surgery options.
Across the wider network, $475 million will ensure additional same-day surgeries, more twilight and after-hours work and theatre improvements.
Another $548 million will help get more public patients into private hospitals, with an extra 51,300 of them to receive elective surgery by June 2024.
Eight additional Rapid Access Hubs will be created at Melbourne public hospitals and in one regional centre for specific day surgeries, including hernia repairs, cataract surgery and joint replacements.
More than 1000 nurses and theatre and sterilisation technicians will be upskilled and 400 perioperative nurses trained. Additionally, 2000 highly-skilled healthcare workers will be recruited from overseas.
Another $20 million will be invested in surgical equipment and diagnostic machine upgrades.
Deputy Opposition leader David Southwick said the funding should have been announced two years ago.
"It is simply not good enough for the government now to promise more money when they should have done in the first place," he told reporters.
Meanwhile, $54 million will also be spent to develop three new mental health support hubs for children and families.
A key recommendation from the Royal Commission into Victoria's Health System, they will house a range of specialists including paediatricians, psychologists, parenting support workers and speech pathologists.
Located in the southern Melbourne, Brimbank-Melton and Loddon areas, the hubs will begin providing care from July.
Victoria recorded 9008 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths on Sunday, with 307 patients in hospital including 18 in ICU.
Australian Associated Press
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