QNMU survey identifies ways to build a sustainable nursing and midwifery workforce

26 September 2022
A new survey has identified safe workloads, ensuring minimum staff ratios and skills mix, overdue wage increases and safe working conditions, as the key solutions for recruiting more nurses and midwives to the understaffed Queensland health system.

The survey, conducted by the Queensland Nurses & Midwives’ Union (QNMU), focused on workforce retention and recruitment, upskilling the current nursing and midwifery workforce and fostering new ways of practice and models of care. 

More than 6,000 QNMU members participated in the survey, with over 64% working in the public health system, 17.6% in the private sector and 17.6% in aged care. The results of the membership survey have been released ahead of the health summit convened by Queensland Health (QH) in Brisbane tomorrow (27 September). 

Asked to identify solutions that would make nursing and/or midwifery a more attractive career, respondents identified: 
  • Safe workloads (minimum staff ratios and skills mix): 78.01%
  • Wage increases: 72.50%
  • Safe working conditions: 56.21%

Asked to identify the ‘biggest barriers’ to remaining in nursing and/or midwifery, the responses were:

  • Dangerous workloads: 78.42%
  • Moral distress or fatigue: 76.13%
  • Insufficient income: 63.06%

QNMU members also identified education and training opportunities (96.03%), management support to take professional development leave (87.14%) and more clinical facilitators to provide support/education on shift (84.97%), as ways of upskilling the current nursing and midwifery workforce.

QNMU Secretary Beth Mohle said the survey results provided a valuable insight into member attitudes, concerns and potential solutions for chronic understaffing impacting patient care.
“It’s given our members with an opportunity to voice their concerns about dangerously excessive workloads, poor pay and working conditions – and how they’re affecting the retention and the recuitment of highly-trained nurses and midwives across the Queensland health system,” Ms Mohle said.

“Whilst this year’s State Budget saw the greatest capital investment in health in many years, these new facilities cannot be resourced without adequate numbers of trained staff. 

“The health summit is a great opportunity for the Government to genuinely listen to nurses and midwives on the ground and find real solutions that can help retain and recruit health professionals.

“We need to work together to reduce the intense pressures on the current workforce and make it safer for patients. 

“Nurses and midwives are leaving the system in droves. There are solutions which can be implemented right now to retain the current skilled workforce and buy the Government time to recruit the next generation of nurses and midwives.

“The time for action is now. Nurses and midwives and the people they care for, can’t wait any longer.”

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