ANF backs calls for rural and remote health workforce funding

Monday 17th June, 2013

Australia’s largest health union, the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF), has backed a new push for additional health workforce funding for rural and remote regions.

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The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) announced today that it will meet with Government and Coalition MPs this week for a “pre-election commitment in relation to five priorities which aim to enhance and increase the health workforce in rural and remote areas”, including nursing, allied health and dentistry.

ANF Assistant Secretary, Yvonne Chaperon, said today ARHEN’s call for more funding aligns with the ANF’s ongoing campaign to find funding solutions to address Australia’s nursing and midwifery crisis, particularly in high-need rural and remote communities.

Extreme concern over shortage of highly-trained nurses, midwives

“The ANF continues to be extremely concerned by the increasing shortage of highly-trained nurses and midwives and the limited employment opportunities for Australia’s graduate nurses and midwives,” Ms Chaperon said.

“As a nation, we need to urgently start building a future nursing and midwifery workforce to replace the current staff, retiring over the next 15 to 20 years, with 90,000 highly trained nurses expected to retire. That’s why it is crucial that more nursing and midwifery graduates are employed in order to build a sustainable workforce into the future.

Not enough incentives for rural practice

“Rural and remote communities are areas of real need for highly-trained nursing and midwifery professionals, resulting in increased workloads for the existing nursing workforce, which continues to compromise the care delivered to these communities.

“Highly-trained nurses midwives are vital in delivering safe patient care throughout regional and remote communities, which more often than not experience limited access to health services, yet there just aren’t enough incentives to allow nurses and midwives to move into rural practice.

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In the lead-up to the September election, Ms Chaperon said the ANF will work with the Federal Government, the Opposition, key Independent MPs and health and aged care stakeholders to develop and implement career pathways for nurses and midwives in communities across the country experiencing high workforce shortages.

The ANF has already put forward several solutions to address the nursing and midwifery shortage including graduate programs being offered in “non-traditional” areas such as aged care and primary care and the removal of HECS fees as an incentive for nursing and midwifery graduates to work in short staffed areas, such as rural and remote communities.

“The ANF is urging all the parties to make safe patient care for all Australians a top priority at the upcoming election by working together on the very important issue of nurse and midwife shortages and the underemployment of graduates,” Ms Chaperon added.

How the media reported the ANF position