NSW nurses' union calling for free courses

·2-min read

With a crippling shortage in nurses and midwives across NSW, the union is urging the government to pay for university courses to attract and retain people to the profession.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) is calling on Premier Dominic Perrottet to follow Victoria's lead by investing in the nursing and midwifery workforce.

The Victorian government is recruiting and training 17,000 nurses and midwives and will cover the university fees of more than 10,000 nursing or midwifery undergraduate courses.

The latest demand comes as nurses prepare to walk off the job for 24 hours on Thursday, while maintaining life-preserving care.

Union's General Secretary Shaye Candish said it was critical for the government to address staff shortages impacting the state's public hospitals.

"The Victorian government's announcement is exactly the type of forward-thinking we have been championing in NSW to address some of the workforce concerns we can already see coming down the line here," she said on Monday.

Under the five-year program worth around $270 million, all new domestic students enrolling in a professional-entry nursing and midwifery course in 2023 and 2024 will receive a scholarship of up to $16,500 to cover course costs.

Students will receive $9000 over three years of study and the remaining $7500 will be paid off if they work in the Victorian public health services for two years.

"Nurses and midwives want to show up for their shifts knowing there are enough suitably skilled other nurses and midwives to work alongside them and deliver the safest, best possible care to every patient," Ms Candish said.

The NSW union wants one nurse for every four patients to ensure the system is not overstretched and patients receive the best care.

Nurses and midwives are also demanding a seven per cent pay rise to keep up with the rising cost of living - more than double the government's public sector wage increase cap of three per cent.