Projected nursing shortages must be taken seriously

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has today urged the Berejiklian Government to heed the warnings of a nursing and midwifery shortage predicted to impact the state by 2030 and seriously address current nurse-to-patient ratio shortfalls.

NSW Ministry of Health figures uncovered by an ABC Freedom of Information investigation, predict a shortage of up to 8,000 registered nurses and midwives across NSW in the next decade. The modelling figures cover the public and private sectors, as well as the aged care sector.

Acting General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Judith Kiejda, said the predicted nursing workforce shortages were not a huge surprise however, the key concern was ensuring the Berejiklian Government and the Ministry of Health took the modelling seriously.

“We have been lobbying this government for the past seven years to urgently improve and expand nurse-to-patient ratios to address the current shortfalls we already have in the delivery of safe patient care across the state’s public hospital system,” Ms Kiejda said.

“This modelling shows predicted workforce shortages across the statewide pool of nurses and midwives – that’s in our public hospitals, private hospitals and aged care settings.

“It’s imperative the government doesn’t play these figures down but instead, actually starts planning to meet the predicted demand of our growing population.

“It’s not good enough to say they’re going to inject 2,400 new graduate nurses and midwives into the public health system this calendar year, when the projections are showing we’ll need at least 1,000 above that figure across the health sector to meet the shortfall.”

Data released by the ABC also shows significant shortages in enrolled nurses out to 2030, with South West Sydney Local Health District identified as one of the areas likely to be hardest hit in the state.

“More needs to be done about the training opportunities being provided for enrolled nursing positions. Over the years, funding cuts and changes to the way courses are provided means prospective enrolled nurses are shying away from studying at TAFE because they can’t afford the new upfront fee structure,” said Ms Kiejda.

“Instead, prospective enrolled nurses are deciding to apply for a registered nursing degree through university and then repay their study fees after they’ve secured employment.

“There are plenty of people willing to enter into the nursing or midwifery profession. A key issue is the state government being prepared to allocate the appropriate resources to meet both workforce demands now and into the future by improving and expanding nurse to patient ratios.”

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