Nurses at risk of leaving: A wake-up call for Australia’s healthcare


A new survey has revealed a worrying trend in Australia’s healthcare system. Many nurses working in community clinics and doctor’s offices are thinking about quitting their jobs in the next few years.

This could lead to a big problem for healthcare across the country. The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) found that more than one-third of these nurses might leave their jobs within five years. They’re meeting with Members of Parliament in Canberra to discuss how to fix this issue.

APNA Chief Executive Officer Ken Griffin explained why nurses are unhappy: “We’re obviously extremely concerned that only 2 in 5 of the current workforce say they’ll keep working in primary health care – and the implications that has for health care in Australia.”

“At a time of chronic health workforce shortages, we have highly skilled nurses with an average of 21 years’ experience undertaking administrative tasks which could be undertaken by a less qualified employee. Nurses want to do what they are trained for and be working to their full scope of practice to ensure Australians get quality care in their community.”

APNA President Karen Booth added, “Nurses are valued, trusted and skilled but are chronically underutilised at a time of severe workforce shortage.”

The nurses themselves say they’re frustrated. One commented on the survey: “There is a lack of understanding about my capabilities and an honouring of them.” Another said, “Medicare not allowing me to vaccinate without a Dr popping their head in (I’m a nurse immunized)” and “No time to do what I can do well because I am doing admin tasks.”

APNA is hoping that upcoming recommendations about nurses’ roles will help address these issues. They want nurses to have meaningful work that uses all their skills and pays them fairly for their expertise.

Related: Nurses underused in Australia’s healthcare crisis

Next Up