In a significant move to strengthen the healthcare workforce, the Minns Labor Government of NSW is investing over $120 million in health worker study subsidies. This commitment is aimed at addressing the challenges of recruitment and retention in the healthcare sector.
Under the program, a total of 12,000 healthcare students will receive support over a five-year period. New students entering healthcare professions will be granted annual scholarships amounting to $4,000, while existing students will be eligible for one-time payments of $8,000.
Starting from 1 January 2024, students pursuing healthcare studies can apply for these subsidies. However, the condition is that they commit to a five-year service in the NSW public health system.
Recruiting and retaining skilled healthcare workers has been an ongoing challenge, partly attributed to years of underfunding and neglect. Competitive compensation and working conditions in other states and industries have also intensified recruitment issues.
In response, the Minns Government has taken significant steps to improve the healthcare work environment, such as eliminating the wage cap for NSW Government healthcare employees and providing substantial pay increases.
To bolster recruitment and retention efforts further, the government has launched a scholarship program accessible to all healthcare degree students. Each year, this program will benefit up to 850 student nurses, 400 medical students, and 150 midwifery students, along with students in various other healthcare fields like paramedicine, Aboriginal health, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Current students will also have the opportunity to apply for an $8,000 one-time payment upon graduation, ensuring that those who have already commenced their studies are not left out.
The introduction of health worker subsidies is just one component of the NSW Government’s comprehensive strategy to revitalise the healthcare system. Other measures include implementing safe staffing levels, improving health workforce conditions, expanding healthcare accessibility in rural and regional areas, conducting a special commission of inquiry into health funding, reducing surgery wait times and investing in health infrastructure and technology.