SA looks to recruit more nurses

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South Australia is looking to recruit 370 nurses amid union concerns hospital staff are burnt out after battling the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues in the state’s health system.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said the extra staff, to be deployed across Adelaide’s health networks, would provide a massive boost to the health workforce.

“Our hospitals and health services provide world-class health care to South Australians and our nurses and midwives are a critical part of ensuring we deliver that,” Mr Wade said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that a strong healthcare system is essential and the government is committed to continuing to grow our workforce.

“Recruiting 370 positions within our nursing and midwifery workforce will provide an important boost to our current, hard-working staff.”

Mr Wade said the new positions would target priority roles in emergency departments, intensive care units and in mental health, while also supporting the COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout.

SA Chief Nurse Jenny Hurley said there were casual, full-time and part-time positions available across hospital and community-based services.

The recruitment drive follows the release of a survey earlier this week that showed many nurses felt burnt out as they worked unpaid overtime, including double shifts, with more than half planning to leave the industry within five years.

The survey of 3000 nurses over a six-week period in May and June was conducted by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and found 70 per cent reported working unpaid overtime, while 56 per cent intended to leave the sector.

“We are facing a generational loss of younger nurses and midwives because of the pressure placed on them by the system to work in such demanding and fatiguing environments,” SA branch chief executive Elizabeth Dabars said.

“We have grave concerns for workforce capacity in the future which is intrinsically linked to burnout and fatigue.”

Ms Dabars said Health Workforce Australia in 2014 projected a national shortfall of about 85,000 nurses and midwives by 2025 and 123,000 nurses and midwives by 2030 yet there was nothing being done to build the future workforce.

“Much of the fatigue being experienced now has arisen from shortages in the workforce, not due to COVID alone but through health system managers and governments being asleep at the wheel,” she said.

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