1112 health workers will have their jobs secured following the NSW government’s decision to set aside $572 million for them.
More than 1,000 nurses and midwives will have their positions in the New South Wales (NSW) public health system made permanent under a budget measure to ensure safe staffing levels.
The Minns Labor government has earmarked an extra $572 million (US$367 million) in its first budget, to be handed down next week, to retain 1112 health workers.
The frontline workers were at risk of being let go when former coalition government funding for their positions expired on July 1, 2024.
The temporary positions were created during the pandemic when hospitals were overwhelmed with demand.
The nurses and midwives work across 15 local health districts and the Children’s Hospital Network across the state.
Premier Chris Minns said while the measure would help retain essential workers, more recruitment would be needed to meet safe staffing levels.
But he remained confident of meeting those targets thanks to changes to working conditions and immigration upticks.
The government has also committed to hiring an additional 1200 nurses and midwives during its first term, beyond Thursday’s announcement, under its Safe Staffing Levels in NSW hospitals policy.
Health Minister Ryan Park said safe staffing levels across the state’s hospitals kept him up at night.
“We can’t deliver the care in our emergency departments and across our hospitals unless we have men and women who are our nurses, our midwives doing their important roles,” he said.
“Hospitals alone don’t deliver health care. It’s the men and women of the NSW Health system who do that.”
Mr. Park said the government was focused on fixing the budget so that workers who deliver essential frontline services in health and education were secure.
The premier also brushed off polls showing public support for his party was slipping, saying “long marriages start with a brief honeymoon”.
Polling published by the Sydney Morning Herald showed Labor’s primary vote dropped six points, from a high of 44 percent in May to 38 percent in September.
“If you look at the measures that we’re taking … they’re about long-term reforms that can deliver frontline services to the people of this state without living beyond our means,” Mr Minns said.
“Going through that process, there’s a political cost (and) … it’s worth paying. Not just for the sake of it, but to set in place the personnel, the policies and the budget to drive long-term change for NSW.”