Regional health workforce incentive package announced

(L-r) Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Minister for Police Paul Toole, Minister for Women, Minister for Regional Health and Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor, Macksville District Hospital Executive Officer/Director of Nursing and Midwifery Andrew Bailey, Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh and Mid North Coast Local Health District Chief Executive Stewart Dowrick.

RECRUITMENT and retention, particularly in regional areas, are the focus of the NSW Government’s $883 million health workforce incentive scheme, described as the largest shakeup of its kind ever undertaken in the state.

The scheme will be delivered alongside new training and recruitment pathways to build a pipeline of regionally based workers with the intention of future proofing healthcare in rural and remote areas.

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Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh joined Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole and
Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor at Coffs Harbour Health Campus to make the announcement.

This is a four-year scheme to attract and retain staff in regional, rural and remote NSW by transforming the way health clinicians are incentivised in these areas.

“This scheme addresses two issues we’ve struggled with in regional NSW, and that’s recruitment and retention,” Mr Singh told News Of The Area.

“The funding is flexible enough for different local health districts to tailor the incentives to meet their specific needs.

“What it means is that where there’s been some challenging-to-fill roles the local health authority will be able to offer further incentives to fill those roles; and through the pipeline of nursing graduates and people coming into the profession that there are incentives for them to stay in this area.

“We’re fortunate in Coffs Harbour that we’ve got a big hospital and we’re a regional centre but there might be other places not far from here like Bellingen Hospital and Macksville Hospital catchment areas that have different challenges to Coffs Harbour in terms of filling their roles.

“This program will allow the local authority the flexibility to help fill those roles as well.

“For the local Coffs community what it means is that on top of the 10,000 new staff that were announced last week for the health system, this gives a method of recruiting and attracting those people into regional areas.

“What we don’t want is for all those jobs to go just into the city,” said Mr Singh.

Mr Toole said, “This package delivers on the NSW Government’s commitment to strengthen the regional health workforce, ensuring that more than three million people who live, work and play in rural and regional NSW continue to have access to high quality healthcare well into the future.

“These incentive packages will be tailored to not only attract more clinicians to these services but help retain those hard working staff and encourage them to put down roots.”

Speaking at Coffs Harbour Health Campus, Bronnie Taylor said the package will be used to deliver innovative, bespoke incentives for staff, so they move to or stay in regional NSW.

“Hard-to-fill, critical roles in rural and remote locations can be incentivised by offering health workers recruitment and retention incentive packages worth up to $10,000 per year plus assistance with accommodation and relocation and some other non-financial incentives,” Mrs Taylor said.

Incentives can include a range of benefits, such as salary boost, sign-on bonuses, retention payments, additional leave, assistance with childcare expenses, assistance with transport and housing support, and access to training and education.

By Andrea FERRARI

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