“Berejiklian’s promises are as empty as a drug cupboard at Northern Beaches Hospital”

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Nurse Chris tells us what he thinks of the Berejiklian Government’s plans to magically recruit 5000 nurses in the current climate.

I’m so glad the Premier has just promised 5000 new nurses to be added to the work force. I’m sure she knows that it takes 3 years to train a registered nurse, and a further 1-2 in post-graduate studies to allow them to practice safely. But yes, I’m sure she’ll find them with the snap of her fingers.

Let’s look at the AHPRA stats for NSW. There are some 83,698 RNs in NSW. Of these, some are non-clinical, while others work only 3 days per month as required to remain registered. Regardless, in raw numbers, NSW Health will have to recruit 6% of the current nursing workforce in the state.

However, a recent study estimates that due to an ageing work force and nurses leaving the field, coupled with a 17% decrease in people entering nurse training programs, there will be a 45% or greater deficit in the number of RNs by 2025.

This study doesn’t account for two variables.

Firstly, the reason nurses leave the profession early is because of fiscal stress. That is, nurses cannot afford to stay in the profession, so they leave to seek new opportunities. This is worsened by the current rising cost of living and lower salary increases. Nurses also leave because of stress and workload.

Currently there is a shortage of nurses – if nurses are already feeling the stress and leaving as a result, it’s not unreasonable for us to assume that a sudden shortage of 45% would push those remaining nurses to breaking point..

Secondly, the plan by the Liberals and Nationals to force new migrants out of metro areas will impact the number or nurses willing to come to NSW. Currently, our deficit is being offset by the number of nurses coming from overseas. However, it is estimated that if the plan to push migrants out goes ahead, fewer nurses will be attracted from overseas. So again, this may impact an increasing deficit.

With these two additional factors, we can extrapolate this that the 45% deficit may be massively understated.

So a promise of a 6% increase when we are facing a deficit over 45% is pretty poor, even by the standards of the Liberal and National Parties. Given their track record of bungled health sector privatisations, economic mismanagement and rampant staffing shortfalls, It’s easy to see how they may have come up with this number. Without a plan, the Premier’s promised nurses may be gone before they even start.

It’s why we need a sustainable nurse-to-patient ratios system. The experience from other states is that when ratios are implemented, more people are drawn to a career in nursing or midwifery. Staff become more willing to increase their hours, and burnout rates decrease. This has the effect of improving both the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives.

Premier Berejiklian, your promises are as empty as a drug cupboard at Northern Beaches Hospital, and your party is as full of the proverbial as Bed 4s colostomy bag. You can’t be trusted to deliver on health.

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