With the election looming this week, Nurse Uncut investigates whether the NSW Liberal and National Coalition are really delivering 5000 new nurses and midwives to the NSW public health system, or if it’s just rhetoric to get them across the line.
Prompted by a concerted campaign by NSW nurses and midwives, the NSW Liberal and National Parties announced a boost of 5000 nurses and midwives to NSW. The Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, claimed it to be a numbers boost “never seen before in NSW”.
However, is there more (or potentially less) to this announcement than meets the eye?
The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) this week released its costings on the Coalition’s policy. The Elections Costings document, while a summary, reveals the depth of spin which the Coalition have placed on their promise of “5000 more nurses and midwives”.
According the PBO document, of the 5000 additional staff promised, 3807 nurses and 252 midwives are to “be recruited through existing growth, funding for which is already included”. That means that the true boost to the nursing and midwifery workforce is only 941 staff members over four years – a real pittance if it is to be spread out across the state.
Of the 5000 nurses and midwives being promised, 4059 are based on the current numbers – with or without the Coalition’s announcement.
Of course, the devil of this policy is in the detail. Of these new positions, over the next four years the Coalition will only recruit:
- 131 FTE nurses for metropolitan hospitals; and
- 383 FTE nurses for rural and regional hospitals (inclusive of the aforementioned specialties).
Of these, there are:
- 23 FTE mental health acute nurses;
- 6 FTE paediatrics nurses;
- 336 FTE emergency nurses;
- 48 midwives
So in reality, the Coalition is only delivering 18% of the new nurses and midwives announced. The rest had already been budgeted for, and are required just to make our health service tick.
This policy announcement doesn’t take into account NSW’s growing population or the increased acuity of hospital patients.
While the rhetoric sounds incredible, the Coalition’s policy appears to be a drop in the ocean in comparison to the needs of our ailing health system. It’s a band-aid solution for a gaping wound. Nurse Uncut is calling the Coalition’s promise nothing more than spin.