NSW program to attract nurses
May 30, 2004 - 6:05PM
NSW is relaunching a program to encourage qualified nurses back into the state's health care system.
Health Minister Morris Iemma said the Nurses Re-Connect program had attracted more than 1,000 nurses back to work in the past two years.
He said the government had committed almost $900,000 to recruit and re-educate a minimum target of 235 more qualified nurses, with $500,000 set aside for 135 mental health nursing placements.
Mr Iemma, who is relaunching the program at Canterbury Hospital, said there had been an 8.9 per cent increase in permanent nurses and midwives since January 2002.
"That translates into a successful recruitment of 3,000 additional nurses and midwives who have joined or re-joined the workforce," he said.
"The Nurses Re-Connect program, along with significant wage increases, has been a key driver in this growth by offering a range of opportunities and flexible working conditions.
"It has attracted 1,062 nurses back into our hospitals, with a retention rate of over 75 per cent."
Mr Iemma said the government recognised the need to increase nurse numbers further as emergency admissions were rising.
"Like all large hospital systems around the world, NSW is experiencing nursing pressure in key specialist areas, particularly in larger metropolitan areas," he said.
"These include intensive care, aged-care, emergency departments and mental health."
NSW chief nursing officer Mary Chiarella backed Mr Iemma's call for nurses to return to the public hospital system.
"As anyone who has spent time working in the profession would know, nursing is more than just a job," Professor Chiarella said.
"Now more than ever it is a serious career that offers a flexible range of opportunities in a supported environment.
"The Nurses Re-Connect program offers a clinically focussed re-entry plan that is tailored to suit individual needs on a full-time or part-time basis."