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Tasmanian Nurse Recruitment Drive Draws A Blank, Unions Blame Pay And Conditions For Failure
Date Posted: 14/Mar/2018
A taxpayer-funded, three-week trip to the United Kingdom to entice nurses to work in the Tasmanian health system has so far not resulted in a single recruitment. In October last year, two senior Tasmanian Health Service (THS) staff travelled to the UK to speak at three employment expos, at a cost of over $31,000. Despite the THS offering $10,000 in relocation costs for those who sign up, there have been no takers.
A spokesman for the THS said several hundred nurses had expressed interest in migrating to Tasmania.
"Migration to Australia takes many months, especially for nurses who need to apply for AHPRA registration and a working visa," the spokesperson said.
The spokesman said the THS was in the process of "finalising the details of a number of applicants from the UK who will join the THS in the near future". The THS did not specify how many, and exactly when they would start.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian branch secretary Emily Shepherd said it was a concern that the UK trip was yet to produce any recruits.
"The fact that there hasn't been an uptake is probably indicative of some of the challenges faced by midwives and nurses working in Tasmania."
Ms Shepherd said those challenges included the well-documented bed block and overall lack of capacity at the state's public hospitals.
"That naturally puts a lot of additional stress, and causes a lot of fatigue amongst the current workforce and results in them having to take an onerous amount of double shifts and overtime," she said.
According to the ANMF, Tasmanian nurses are the second lowest paid in Australia and next year will become the worst paid when those in Victoria receive a pay rise.
That would leave Tasmanian nurses about 7.5 per cent worst off than their Victorian counterparts, and 10 per cent behind the best paid in Queensland.
"It is certainly a recruitment and retention issue and it absolutely needs to be addressed to ensure the future of the nursing and midwifery profession in Australia," she said.
PHOTO: A comparison of wages between the states. (Supplied: Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation)
For a registered nurse Grade 3, Queensland is the best-paying state to work in.
As of 1 July 2017, Tasmania was paying 10.98 per cent lower than QLD to RN Grade 3s.
Come 1 July this year, with QLD's projected annual wage increase, Tasmania is forecast to be 11.53 per cent lower, with 2019 to come in at 12.07 per cent under QLD's wages, despite a 2 per cent increase in Tasmanian salaries.
Public sector wage negotiations start as soon as caretaker mode for the re-elected Hodgman Liberal Government ends.
A 2 per cent growth cap has been in place since 2011.
Ms Shepherd said Premier Will Hodgman's previous resistance to lifting the cap must change if the Liberals want to recruit the 800 nurses it promised during the election.
"There needs to be an inventive and if they (interstate nurses) are taking a pay cut to return they are probably unlikely to come back," she said.
Following the 2017 budget, Health Minister Michael Ferguson urged people who knew of nurses who left Tasmania for work to reach out and convince them to return.
"Give them a phone call ... tell them about the job opportunities to come back to Tasmania and work in our health system," he told ABC Radio Hobart the morning after the spending measures were announced.
By ABC State Political Reporter Rhiana Whitson

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