Nurses and midwives need help

THE FRASER Coast’s only university-based nurse trainer is calling for immediate action to ensure sustainable nursing and midwifery workforces into the future.

“We need new models of care delivery and new staffing models that better reflect the life needs for registered nurses and midwives,” USQ Associate Professor Trudy Yuginovich said.

“Governments need to be focused on more appropriate funding models to better meet the healthcare and staffing needs within communities.

“The financial crises of the last few years have not helped and so nurses and midwives are working longer because they can’t afford not to do so.

“In some ways this then skews the profile of the workforce as there are no positions available for younger registered nurses to take up the positions.”

Assoc. Prof. Yuginovich said that as a result of the social profiles many registered nurses were the sole providers for their families.

“This is particularly evident in rural and regional areas of the country like the Fraser Coast, where there is limited access to other jobs within communities,” she said.

“Our nursing and midwifery workforces are also ageing. If this trend continues, which appears likely, then we are facing a situation fairly soon where our most experienced nurses will be leaving the workforce. This will exacerbate existing shortages and create additional skill mix problems.”

The latest national statistics show nursing and midwifery workforces continue to age, highlighting an alarming situation ahead:

Between 1997 and 2007 the average age across the professions increased from 40 to 44 years.

Between 2003 and 2007, the proportion of nurses who were aged 50 years or older increased from 28.2 per cent to 33 per cent.

The trend generally shows a reduction in the proportion of nurses in younger age categories and an increase in the proportion in older age categories.

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