Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Deputy Premier; Minister for State Development, Jobs and Trade; Tourism; Commerce; Science

    Multi-pronged health workforce attraction and retention strategy committed in State Budget

    10/08/2021 2:00 PM
    • The McGowan Government will invest in a multi-pronged workforce attraction and retention strategy as part of its $1.9 billion injection into health and mental health
    • Part of the investment includes $71.6 million to employ more doctors, nurses and midwives across the WA health system
    • The additional investment will see approximately 100 doctors and 500 nurses working on our hospital wards, as well as 1,100 graduate nurses this year and 1,200 next year
    • $2 million to boost the existing local, national and international recruitment campaign to lure health professionals to work and live in WA
    • Refresher courses relaunched for experienced nurses and midwives in WA

    The McGowan Government will invest $71.6 million into a multi-pronged health workforce attraction and retention strategy to employ more doctors, nurses and midwives.


    The funding boost forms part of the $1.9 billion investment in health and mental health initiatives in the 2021-22 State Budget. This includes 332 additional beds across the health system, supported by approximately 100 new doctors and 500 new nurses working on our wards.


    The upcoming Budget will commit $35.6 million to bolster the workforce to help alleviate demand on the health system.


    In addition, a $2 million local, national and international recruitment campaign will support the current drive to bring health professionals to Western Australia.


    To further support recruitment, nine additional nursing occupations have been added to the State Nominated Migration Program in WA, an initiative which enables visa holders already in Australia to fill jobs not being met by local workers.


    Nursing occupations which have been added to the program include aged care, paediatrics, surgical, development disability and rehabilitation.


    A key focus of the recruitment strategy will be attracting experienced nurses and midwives, who have taken time out of their careers, back into the workforce.


    Free refresher courses are being relaunched for nurses and midwives to provide a smooth transition back into the health system. These courses will also allow existing staff to increase their skills and knowledge.


    The workforce package includes $9.6 million to support transition to practice for an additional 100 new graduate nurses and midwives.


    This comes on top of the 600 new graduate nurses and midwives positions already announced by the McGowan Government. 


    It brings the total number of new graduates employed in 2021 to around 1,100 with a further 1,200 in 2022.


    $4.8 million has also been provided for additional staffing at Perth Children's Hospital to employ an extra 16 nurses.


    The workforce attraction and retention package will help ensure more available beds can be staffed and alleviate pressure on emergency departments.


    The increased funding for additional staff and recruitment builds on significant growth in staffing levels in the WA health system.


    Over the four years between March 2017 and March 2021, the number of staff employed by WA Health increased to 39,424 full time equivalent workers, up 4,325 or 12.2 per cent.


    The increase in health workers has accounted for almost half of the additional workers added to the public sector since the McGowan Government came to office.


    Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a record 2,148 health care workers were employed up to the March quarter 2021. 


    More than 750 FTE of nurses and midwives were employed in WA Health between January and June this year.


    Of the 332 new beds opening across WA hospitals, 223 are general beds and 109 are mental health beds.


    Of the 223 general beds, 85 are in addition to previous announcements - including 24 at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, 6 at Armadale Hospital, 11 at Bentley Hospital, 16 at Fiona Stanley Hospital, 18 at Fremantle Hospital and 10 at South Perth Hospital.


    Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:


    "Health services throughout the country are currently experiencing workforce shortages due to the impacts of COVID-19, and Western Australia has been no exception.


    "Pressure on our emergency departments has been caused by a number of factors, including workforce shortages, increased acuity of patient presentation, increased mental health and complex health conditions.


    "We're making a massive investment of $1.9 billion into health and mental health initiatives and by increasing the workforce, investing in our emergency departments and funding more beds, we are working to meet demand on our health system and improve workplace conditions for our health workforce.


    "We are embarking on a recruitment and training program to get more nurses and midwives into our health services and this includes delivering an additional 600 nursing and midwifery graduates over the next two years.


    "The McGowan Government's strong financial management over the past four and a half years has put the State's budget on a sustainable footing and given it capacity to provide this major funding boost which will benefit Western Australian patients and health workers.


    "The McGowan Government has put the health of Western Australians first, always following the health advice to keep the State safe from COVID-19.


    "Being free from restrictions and living a relatively COVID-free lifestyle should be one of the appeals for health professionals out there looking to make the move to live and work in WA."


    Minister's office - 6552 6500