Who should fix the grad nursing crisis?

Tuesday 4th December, 2012

The Australian Nursing Federation is upping the ante in its campaign to help nursing graduates secure jobs with a new online poll.

The poll, on the union’s website, aims to give nurses, midwives and members of the public a voice as Australia faces a looming nursing crisis, amid a predicted shortage of more than 109,000 nurses by 2025.

The poll puts the Federal Government firmly in the spotlight; asking if Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek should do more to fix the graduate nursing crisis.

It also questions whether Prime Minister Julia Gillard should waive HECS fees for nurse graduates who accept employment in areas of need.

“There is a growing shortage of nurses and midwives across Australia and it’s only going to get worse,” ANF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said in a statement.

“Unless this is addressed now, safe patient care will be compromised and it will be the sick and the vulnerable who will suffer.

“That’s why the ANF, as Australia’s largest health union, is calling on the Federal Government to work with state and territory governments to find solutions to the nursing crisis by funding a range of strategies which will ensure employment of graduate nurses and midwives and also importantly deliver the ongoing promotion of safe patient care.”

The poll comes after the ANF launched a national campaign, titled ‘Stop passing the buck, Australia’s nursing grads need jobs!’, in response to “slash and burn budget-cuts” threatening the future of the nation’s nursing and midwifery workforce.

It follows a major drop in the number of public health sector jobs offered to nursing graduates across most of Australia, with hundreds of graduates missing out on nursing jobs.

At this stage Queensland is the worst affected, with just 270 nurses, or less than 10 per cent, of the 2765 applications Queensland Health received through its graduate nurse online recruitment system receiving job offers in the latest round.

In Victoria, more than 800 graduate nurses will be left without jobs while employment of Tasmanian nursing graduates is down 40 per cent, and the WA Department of Health has offered 827 graduate nurses and midwives places in its graduate program amid reports almost 1400 people applied.

New South Wales and South Australia’s public health sectors are also facing major cost-saving cuts.

The ANF is calling on federal and state governments to support a raft of strategies in a bid to secure employment for nursing graduates and for the ongoing promotion of safe patient care.

Measures include waiving HECS fees for graduates who accept employment in areas of needs, state and federal government funding for 24-hour, seven day-a-week clinical supervision and mentoring, rotation through non-traditional graduate areas such as primary care and aged care, and joint state and federal funding for graduate positions.

Ms Thomas said the campaign has so far prompted more than 2300 emails to politicians, with 800 emails sent to Ms Plibersek and 2000 people signing up to show their support.

“We want to hear from ANF members as well as the public about who should fix Australia’s nursing crisis and how it could be done,” Ms Thomas said.