South Australia is set to lose up to half of its nursing and midwifery workforce to retirement over the next decade. And with this significant loss of nurses and midwives, many of whom are leaders in their current roles, our public health system will lose an abundance of knowledge around clinical practice, management and education.
Equipping the next generation of nurses and midwives with the skills, and indeed the roles, to provide high-quality care well into the future has been a key focus for the ANMF (SA Branch).
“We’ve been working with SA Health to reach agreement on a workforce renewal plan since the last public sector enterprise agreement in 2016,” says ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Assoc Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM.
“The staffing challenges ahead called for a renewed focus on workforce planning and development, as well as a greater focus on recruitment, retention and the acquisition of knowledge and skills to meet the needs of the health and aged care systems as we move forward,” she says.
ANMF (SA Branch) has played a pivotal role in finalising a strategy to support this renewal across South Australia’s public sector nursing and midwifery workforce.
“We are thrilled to have reached ‘in principle’ agreement of some of the main elements of the plan, while we wait for the Australian Taxation Office to provide the final tick of approval,” Ms Dabars says.
In its current form, the proposed workforce renewal scheme will be open to Registered Nurses/Midwives levels 1 to 3.
“The plan provides for up to 100 (FTE) $50,000 incentive payments to be offered to selected level 1 or 2 Registered Nurses/Registered Midwives upon retirement this year, provided they meet all of the set criteria.”
Eligible nursing/midwifery staff must:
• be over 60 years of age as at 1 October 2018;
• have more than 10 years’ service with SA Health as at 1 October 2018;
• not work in an area of identified skills shortage;
• be substantively classified or have a right of return to an RN/M1 or RN/M2 in-scope clinical position; and
• be able to be replaced with an RN/M level 1, year 1 or 2.
Subject to final approval, calls for interested and eligible candidates will take place from October to December this year to maximise the potential for Transition to Professional Practice Program (TPPP) participates to assume the available roles.
Further, as a proposed way of fostering the transfer of knowledge between outgoing staff and younger nurses and midwives, up to 15 level 3 Registered Nurses/Registered Midwives will be able to nominate to participate in a coaching program to span March to December next year.
“The program will ultimately lead to them being eligible to retire from their role and receive the $50,000 (FTE) payment on completion of six months’ coaching of a replacement staff member,” Ms Dabars says.
The coaching program will require the level 3 RN/M to work on a reduced-hours basis (half-time) and effectively job-share their role with the person selected as their ultimate replacement.
Areas and positions will be earmarked for workforce renewal by the respective Executive Directors of Nursing and/or Midwifery.
“ANMF (SA Branch) is also looking at ways of addressing the workforce shortage in various areas of clinical specialisation, which are already finding it difficult to attract and retain skilled staff,” Ms Dabars says.
“Undersupply is emerging in areas such as critical care, peri-operative nursing and mental health. Outside the metropolitan area, midwifery is also experiencing difficulty in attracting appropriate staff.”
“ANMF (SA Branch) is pleased to have played a key role in developing a scheme that will enable the workforce of the future to meet the anticipated growing demand for care and treatment in areas of acute care, primary health services and aged care.”