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News & Trends - Medical Technology

Critical workforce shortage impacting elective surgery still not addressed by either party

Health Industry Hub | May 16, 2022 |
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MedTech News: Concern over health workforce shortages will impact the way Australians vote but neither of the major parties have proposed a solution to this problem, with less than a week to go before polling day.

Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) CEO Michael Roff said the Association’s survey of just over 1,000 Australians commissioned last week assessed the impact of health workforce shortages on voters, and the news for the major parties is not good.

“This survey shows 90% of Australians are concerned about the impact the shortage of nurses will have on the health and aged care systems, and 53% say this will affect the way they vote.

“While Australians understand a shortage of nurses will constrain efforts to clear the backlog of essential elective surgery or improve the quality of aged care, it is disappointing that neither major party seems to get it.

Show us your health workforce policy, urges APHA

“With all the major ‘set-piece’ announcements of the campaign now done, neither of the parties seeking to form government has put forward a plan to address this critical health workforce shortage,” he said

Mr Roff said while there had been announcements about ‘more nurses’, no one can explain how Australia will attract a skilled workforce and rebuild the local workforce.

“We are calling on both parties to announce a plan to guarantee a pathway to permanent residency for skilled health care migrants coming to Australia, while we also build capacity at home.

“It is not just a matter of opening the borders and inviting people to come, we are competing for nurses, doctors and allied health professionals with the rest of the world. The United Kingdom, France and Canada have all made steps to make residency easier for migrant health professionals. Australia needs to step up or lose out,” he said.

Mr Roff said an internal survey of APHA hospital members showed almost 60% anticipated falling short of their workforce needs in the first half of 2022.

“Private hospitals tell us they have a current shortfall of 5,500 nurses and they urgently need 1,000 skilled migrants to fill some of this gap. But overseas nurses are reluctant to come to Australia as other countries are making it more attractive. As pressure to deliver delayed elective surgeries is at its height, Australia is struggling to fill its workforce needs. That could mean further delays for people who have already waited years for help and result in an even more exhausted workforce.

“In the short term, there’s a solution. it’s reducing the red-tape around bringing people into the country for employers and making Australia the most attractive option for those looking for a new place to call home,” he said.


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