$10k to return to work

A FINANCIAL obstacle that requires nurses and midwives who have taken time off work to undergo a $10,000 refresher course is not helping solve the region's nurse shortage, the NSW Nurses Association believes.

Over the coming weeks, nurses and midwives will ask people to sign petitions seeking funding to cut the cost of re-entry courses and establish more of them for affected professionals.

The Nurses Association says that due to new national rules, nurses and midwives who have not worked in the profession for at least three months full-time in the last five years must complete a re-entry course.

There is no approved midwifery re-entry course in NSW at all, the association claims.

While the $10,000 is deterrent enough, the situation is worse for Northern Rivers nurses, as the only approved eight-week re-entry course is in Sydney.

A memo obtained by The Northern Star in September highlighted the nurse shortage at Lismore Base Hospital alone, showing almost one in 10 nursing positions was vacant.

Nurses Association Lismore branch president Gil Wilson said the Government should step up if they wanted to fix the shortage.

"The Government should increase funding considering they want (nurses and midwives) back in the workplace," he said.

Mr Wilson said the re-entry requirements mostly affected women, many of whom came back into the profession as part-time mothers.

"These (mothers) are the ones this affects. These are the ones it really hurts," he said.

"A lot of nurses come up here to have a better lifestyle and they have kids and settle down. So all of the sudden they find themselves in this predicament.

"The $10,000 is bad enough but if you are a rural nurse, you have to go away from your family to Sydney to do the course.

"It's poorly thought-out and rurally, we are disadvantaged."

The petition can be signed at hospitals, health services and aged care facilities and nurses and midwives will also try to run stalls at local shopping centres and markets at various times over the next few weeks.


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