More incentives needed for rural nurses and midwives

Friday 31st May, 2013

The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has welcomed additional Federal Government funding for health services for rural communities but says more must be done to attract nurses and midwives into high-need workforce areas.

The Government yesterday announced a $179 million investment under the Rural Health Outreach Fund to provide health services for people living in rural and remote communities across the country.

Concern about growing shortage of nurses and midwives

But ANF Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas, said the Government still needed to find funding solutions to address Australia’s nursing crisis, particularly in rural and remote communities.

“As Australia’s largest health union, the ANF is becoming increasingly concerned by the growing shortage of nurses and midwives and the underemployment of graduates in health and aged care,” Ms Thomas said today.

“As a nation, we need to 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 retireRural communiri

Rural communities have limited access to health services

“Rural and remote communities in particular, are areas of real need for highly- trained nursing and midwifery professionals. Unfortunately, this is leading to increased workloads for the existing nursing workforce, compromising safe patient care for rural and remote communities.
“Rural nurses and midwives are vital in delivering quality care throughout regional communities with often limited access to health services, yet they just don’t have the incentives to allow them to move into rural practice.”

Use removal of HECS fees as an incentive

Ms Thomas said the ANF was looking forward to working with the 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.

“One solution the ANF has recommended is for 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,” she added.