Nurse shortage reaches “crisis point”

Sixty per cent of the 500 new nursing places in universities this year were not taken up.

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has called for the establishment of a national health workforce commission following the release of a damning report on university nursing courses.

The discussion paper from the National Health Workforce Taskforce showed that only 200 of the 500 tertiary nursing places in Australia were taken up in 2008.

“It is understood that the low take up is due to a range of factors including funding for, and capacity of, the health and higher education sectors to provide sufficient clinical training,” the report said.

CHA has been talking with government for over half a year about a national health workforce agency.

And the organisation’s CEO, Martin Laverty said the findings from the taskforce’s discussion paper strengthen the case for an agency that brings together governments, professional bodies and the private sector.

“It is important that this agency is not a toothless tiger. It must be able to allocate funds, be independent of governments, and be accountable to parliaments and the public,” Mr Laverty said.

“As our society ages and demand on the health and aged care sectors increases exponentially, a National Health Workforce Commission would ensure that these kinds of crises are averted in the future.”

Mr Laverty said that the national aged care census and survey released earlier this month showed that aged care is at a “crisis point”.

“At the current rate of decline,” he said, “there will be no registered nurses in Australian nursing homes by the year 2025.”

Click here to see the full discussion paper on Health Education and Training.

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