NSW Budget: 10k health staff to be hired in multi-billion dollar recruitment drive

The Daily Telegraph, 6 June 2022

This month’s state budget will set aside a massive $4.5 billion for a national record-breaking health worker recruitment drive, as the Perrottet government grapples with a crisis in the sector.

More than 10,100 staff will be recruited to hospitals and health services in the next four years of a nation-record recruitment drive to bolster the state’s strained healthcare workforce.

A massive $4.5 billion will be put aside in this month’s budget to hire what government sources are calling a “health army” – including more than 7,600 extra workers in the next year alone.

The 7,674 staff to be hired in the next year will immediately ease pressure on a Covid-fatigued workforce and fast-track elective surgeries.

The extra staff will include nurses, midwives, doctors, paramedics, pathologists, scientific staff, pharmacists and allied health professionals, as well as support staff who ensure the continued operation of NSW hospitals.

Mr Perrottet directly linked the staffing-related funding boost to making life easier for existing staff in the NSW Health system.

“This record investment will help us care for health staff across the state, providing the respite and back-up they need,” he said on Sunday.

He said the spending would ensure “better health outcomes and a brighter future for NSW families”.

The $4.5 billion includes money to hire more than 2,100 ambulance staff and open more stations, announced by Premier Dominic Perrottet, Treasurer Matt Kean, and other senior ministers on Sunday.

The multi billion dollar spend comes amid ongoing industrial action from nurses and paramedics over pay and conditions.

It also comes ahead of a major Bureau of Health Information report due next week which is expected to outline how the state’s health system buckled under massive Covid pressure.

Public sector workers across multiple sectors have been bargaining for the yearly cap on wages, currently 2.5 per cent, to be increased – something which the Perrottet government is set to do in the June 21 economic blueprint but has so far not announced.

Nurses have also gone on strike to call for mandated nurse-to-patient ratios, something which the government has opposed.

The extra staffing will include a boost to the number of healthcare workers in regional and rural NSW.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was “critical” to back in current staff with a larger workforce.

Health Services Union Secretary Gerard Hayes welcomed Sunday’s boost in paramedic numbers but reiterated the union’s view that the wage cap needed to be substantially increased.