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Cash payment proposal for early retirement

South Australian public sector nurses could be offered a financial incentive to retire early under a plan currently under consideration by SA Health.

The proposal canvassed in the state’s graduate nursing employment strategy report released last month would replicate a similar scheme announced for SA teachers last year.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Elizabeth Dabars told Nursing Review the strategy had merit but the devil would be in the detail. The scheme, which offers $50,000 lump-sum payments to older workers, would free up permanent positions within the workforce for new graduates.

SA Health’s Nursing and Midwifery Office has been working in collaboration with the ANMF to maximise employment for nurses in response to the state’s short-term oversupply of new graduates. While recommended as an area of further investigation, the report stopped short of endorsing the one-off payment strategy.

The Nursing and Midwifery Graduate Employment Working Group raised concerns about a rapid loss of skills and leadership should nurses take up the incentive payment in large numbers. If applied to nursing and midwifery, the scheme would need to be cost neutral, voluntary and the vacancies filled by new graduates, the report said.

Other measures recommended included investigating additional graduate opportunities in country areas, increasing part-time graduate placements and more flexible working arrangements for nurses and midwives.

While many of these strategies were welcomed, Dabars said their cost neutral status was a significant constraint on their implementation.

“We were disappointed that the May 31 state budget did not include any additional funding or recognition to deal with the issue of graduate employment and older nurses wanting to stay in the workforce for a few additional years,” she said.

SA Health’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Lydia Dennett, said maintaining a balanced workforce to offer supervision to new graduates was a priority.

Linda Belardi

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