NSW Budget: Over 10K health staff to be hired; public sector pay rise and $3K cash bonus
More than 10,000 full-time equivalent staff will be recruited to hospitals and health services across the state over four years, as part of the New South Wales 2022–23 Budget.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said 7674 more workers would be recruited in the first year, which will help ease pressure on COVID-fatigued health staff and fast-track more elective surgery for patients.
“Everyone in NSW is indebted to our health workers for their selfless efforts throughout the pandemic, remembering for a long time there was no vaccine and they risked their lives each day to care for patients,” Perrottet said.
The additional staff will include nurses and midwives, doctors, paramedics, pathologists and scientific staff, pharmacists and allied health professionals, as well as support and ancillary staff who ensure the continued operations of NSW hospitals and the wider public health system.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the NSW Government’s $4.5 billion investment over four years is intended to relieve pressure on existing staff and will ensure there are appropriate levels of health staffing for its pipeline of health infrastructure projects. With 110 hospitals and healthcare facilities underway, this funding will also ensure those new hospitals will have the workforce of today and the future, Hazzard said. The staffing boost will also be extended to rural and regional NSW.
Treasurer Matt Kean said a strong feature of this health workforce budget was a boost to NSW Ambulance, which has been under unprecedented pressure with historically high call rates.
“We will provide immediate relief and support for NSW Ambulance, with $1.76 billion to recruit 2128 new staff and open 30 more stations,” Kean said.
Wage increase and $3000 bonus
The NSW Government has also announced a new public sector wages policy to provide increased pay for public sector employees including paramedics, nurses and teachers.
The new two-year policy provides among the highest public sector wages growth in the country with employees offered a 3% remuneration increase a year in 2022–23 and 2023–24, with a possible further 0.5% on offer in 2023–24 for employees that make a substantial contribution to productivity-enhancing reforms. This provides for remuneration increases of up to 6.5% over two years under the new policy.
The policy will apply to new industrial agreements that are struck from 1 July 2022. In addition, a one-off payment of $3000 will be provided to employees in the NSW Health Service in recognition of their work on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The payment covers paramedics, midwives, cleaners and all other permanent staff employed by the NSW Health Service.
Emergency care — new staff and stations
NSW Ambulance will recruit 2128 new staff and open 30 more stations in a $1.76 billion boost to frontline emergency care, as part of the NSW Government’s 2022–23 Budget.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said, “The investment will help increase capacity both in terms of available paramedics to respond to patients and available staff to help answer the record volume of calls.
The $1.76 billion over four years will provide NSW with 1858 extra paramedics, 210 ambulance support staff, 52 nurses and eight doctors.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the government will continue its record spending on ambulance infrastructure, so the larger workforce has access to the best facilities.
“NSW Ambulance, the Health Services Union and the NSW Government have worked collaboratively ensuring we get the right number of paramedics, in the right places, when and where needed. This massive boost to paramedics we believe will make a positive difference,” Hazzard said.
As a part of the budget, the NSW Government will deliver 30 new stations including at Warilla, Kincumber, Lisarow, Gateshead, Swansea, Cherrybrook, Raby and Narellan in the coming year, with 22 more stations to come over the following three years.
Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the investment in ambulance infrastructure and workforce is great news for those living in regional and rural areas.
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said the pandemic has made it clear continued investment in frontline healthcare workers is crucial.
“We are always thankful for the outstanding commitment, compassion and tireless efforts of our ambulance staff, but especially throughout the pandemic,” Kean said.
The Health Services Union HSU Secretary, Gerard Hayes, said, “This payment recognises the reality of what our members have gone through. For people on modest incomes, like cleaners and security, it is a massive boost that makes up for the pay freeze of 2020. It will allow many to put in place a financial buffer against the rising cost of living.”
“The HSU will continue to push for the public sector wage cap to be abolished, however. The NSW wages policy prevents meaningful wage bargaining. We need a system that allows workers to bargain for wages based on the cost of living and productivity, not a system based on the whim of politicians. While we are gratified that the Premier is listening to our concerns, we nonetheless want the cap to be scrapped.”
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