Labor’s Spokesperson for Rural and Regional Health, Stephen Jones’ address at the 2014 CRANAplus Annual Conference today drew attention to the disaster the Abbott Government’s policies are having on access to nurses and allied health professionals in remote Australia.
“We know there are obvious gaps in remote communities. People in remote areas have a 35% greater chance of dying from cancer compared to those in the cities. They live up to 7 years less and are more likely to develop diabetes, melanoma and mental health issues”, said Jones.
“The lack of GPs in remote areas means nurses and allied health professionals are the key to dealing with these crippling health disparities but the Abbott Government’s policies are making nursing less and less attractive.”
The recent Health Workforce 2025 – Doctors, Nurses and Midwives report revealed the stark reality facing the Australian nursing sector.
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Nick Champion says at the current rate we will have an estimated shortfall of 109,000 nurses by 2025.
“This means by 2016, there needs to be an additional 10,949 nurses graduating per year just to meet demand – an unattainable feat by any standards”, said Champion.
“Not only has Tony Abbott abolished Health Workforce Australia, which was set up to ensure we have enough doctors, and allied health professionals to meet demand into the future, his Government’s reckless higher education reforms mean we may soon be entering the era where a nurse could pay up to $98,000 for a three year degree.
“Debts the size of mortgages will hang around many students’ necks well into middle age, and women and poorer students will end up paying more.”
Lee Thomas, from the Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation has rightly pointed out that if we are to have a first rate health system, we should be encouraging more people to study, not putting more barriers in their way.
Stephen Jones and Nick Champion agree it is nonsensical that as a nursing shortage looms over the next decade, the Abbott Government is systematically destroying nursing education and the ability for thousands of Australians to help close the burgeoning health gap in rural and remote Australia.