Experts say Minns’ scholarships is no cure for the healthcare crisis 


New South Wales (NSW) Premier Chris Minns and NSW Minister for Health and Regional Health Ryan Park have announced scholarships of $4000 per year will be offered to 12,000 healthcare students in a bid to stem the flow of healthcare staff exiting the public system. This includes 6500 nurses and midwives leaving the NSW public sector each year.

Healthcare students will be required to commit to five years in the NSW public health system, with scholarship applications open from 1 January 2024.

Future paramedics, doctors, nurses, and students of Aboriginal health, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and paramedicine will benefit from the $48 million investment, with up to 150 midwifery students, 400 medical students, and 850 nursing students eligible to receive the $4000 scholarships. 

NSW Budget announcement will reveal more

When NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey hands down the 2023-24 Budget on Tuesday 19 September, it is expected he will also outline plans for an $8000 lump sum payment for current students to be included in the $121.9 million allocated for these study subsidies. 

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The move comes as the state government commits to further funding for 1200 new nursing jobs in its first budget. But with emergency department wait times at an all-time high, and hospital staff and paramedics treating a record number of patients with severe and complex conditions, many health sector experts believe there is more to be done.

University of Technology Sydney nursing professor Amanda Wilson told The Bursar, “Any incentive is good but it’s not going to solve the problem”.

“To retain experience the government is going to have to improve conditions, and to do that nurses need to be paid more money,” she says.

Professor Wilson believes that the scholarships may induce some people to opt for healthcare studies but says “inexperienced nurses could experience burn-out in the current conditions, which potentially leaves them with an additional $12,000 debt if they can’t cope”.

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“The elephant in the room is that nurses need better conditions and without them, how or are we going to get people to stay after the initial five years?”

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park believes the scholarships will bolster the public healthcare workforce, given that retention has been hindered in recent years by a competitive interstate and private sector job market offering better pay, rewards and conditions. 

“We know that not only do we need to recruit more health workers, we need to retain them, and today’s announcement bolsters that effort,” said Mr Park, clarifying that, “This is just one of the suite of measures we are undertaking in building a supported workforce.”

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By Charlie
Charlie Writes is a Sydney based, London born, Caribbean writer, interviewer and poet. A colourful 27 year career has taken Charlie from typing poems on the spot on her 1970’s typerwiter named June, to donning a hard hat as a roving reporter in the construction industry. All while living out her favourite quote that the greatest adventures begin with a simple conversation.