WA to pay higher education debts of nurses, midwives

·2-min read

Nurses and midwives will get help to pay off their university debts in a bid by the Western Australian government to attract more workers to remote and regional hospitals.

The $4.2m of state government funding, to be included in Thursday's budget, will be available for up to 350 recently qualified medical practitioners who start work in country WA in 2023/24.

"We know HECS-HELP debts can be a significant burden for people at the start of their careers and in many cases take years to pay off," Premier Mark McGowan said on Monday.

Each nurses and midwife will be eligible for up to $12,000 over three years, with the incentive scheme prioritised for those willing to work in hard-to-staff areas.

The money is part of $28.5m in new funding in the upcoming budget to bolster WA's healthcare workforce.

It includes $3.6m for staff support services for 1200 newly qualified nurses and midwives and $15m to attract and retain health and mental health staff in regional areas.

A further $5.8m has been allocated to boost infant, child and adolescent services across the state, which includes recruiting 10 Aboriginal mental health workers.

"This budget includes a range of new initiatives designed to ensure WA is well positioned in building a skilled workforce for the future," Mr McGowan said.

"Nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers are one of our top priorities."

Opposition spokesman for regional health Martin Aldridge said the funding was a good start but the government needed to do more.

"The opposition has long called for greater support to increase the number of nurses and midwives working in regional WA," he said.

"This policy does not go far enough to address years of neglect and underinvestment in our regional health workforce."