The state’s only re-entry course will end on July 1 forcing nurses to study on the mainland to meet national registration requirements, writes Linda Belardi.
Tasmanian nurses seeking to return to the workforce will no longer have access to a re-entry program following the government’s decision not to renew accreditation for the state’s only course.
Australian Nursing Federation (Tasmanian branch) secretary, Neroli Ellis said the move was a cost-cutting measure and would force nurses to go interstate to meet national re-registration requirements.
“Many nurses who have had a break of five or more years for travel or family reasons will now find themselves unable to recommence their career pathway,” Ellis told Nursing Review.
To undertake an approved program, nurses will be required to complete the three-month course interstate or to re-enrol in an undergraduate nursing degree.
In NSW the cost of the state’s only return-to-practice program delivered by private RTO, the College of Nursing is $10,000, which Ellis said would be cost prohibitive for many Tasmanian nurses on top of living and travel expenses.
Up until June 30 this year, the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has covered the cost of the enrolment fees. The course has been delivered by the University of Tasmania or Tasmanian Polytechnic.
The loss of the program comes at a time when the state is preparing to manage significant projected nursing shortages, said Ellis.
Tasmanian nurses are the oldest on average in the country and the state is preparing for an influx of retirements in the next five to 10 years. “We are expecting quite significant shortages particularly when we are seeing very few graduates gaining employment,” Ellis said.
The state has experienced more than a 60 per cent drop in the number of graduate nurse positions offered in the public sector due to the health budget cuts, she said.
Budget estimates held on May 29 revealed that 265 nursing positions across the state have been cut in the past year.
“The budget cuts are really hitting home right across the board in Tasmania, not only in the acute setting but in family and child health and community mental health,” Ellis said. She said mental health nurses were already in short supply.
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