Care sector in crisis: The urgency to recruit retired nurses

Retired nurse

According to media reports, NSW Health is considering a raft of measures to boost staff numbers, including employing student nurses, as well as nurses who have been out of the sector for three years.

Nurses are being called up to help with vaccination efforts, just as hospital admissions due to COVID-19 are rising sharply. In addition, large numbers of nurses are being forced into isolation after being exposed to the virus, leaving the already stretched hospital system under pressure. 

There are currently 840 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital in NSW, including 137 people in intensive care, 48 of whom require ventilation. 

Of concern is the numbers being admitted to hospital are rising sharply.

Furthermore, there were 1,290 new COVID-19 cases acquired in NSW up until 8pm Sunday night, fuelling concerns about the pressure on the state’s hospital system to keep up with demand.

Today, Berejiklian said NSW’s intense care system will come under increasing pressure until October, when numbers are then expected to begin to decline.

“From the information we have, the accumulation of cases and also the number that’s still unvaccinated, that October is likely to be our worst month in terms of pressure on the system,” she explained.

“Our hospital system is under pressure,” Berejiklian said, noting that hospitals will have to adapt in the months ahead.

The Guardian has reported that nurses are currently working under “hellhole” conditions due to staff shortages, and are having to resort to using increased use of sedatives to manage their patient workloads.

The Saturday Paper has reported that even though NSW has just more than 2,000 ventilators, it lacks sufficient numbers of staff to operate them.

Already Westmead Hospital, which is in the heart of one of Sydney’s worst affected areas, has reduced ambulance arrivals and transferred some patients to other sites.

Nearby, Blacktown Hospital has stopped accepting COVID-19 patients all together.

The Australian is reporting that NSW Health wants to increase the number of retired nurses it can draw on to boost the flagging workforce.

Nurses whose registrations have lapsed within the last three years have been allowed to return to work under guidelines developed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Graduate nurses have also been allowed to work, although it’s understood their numbers are low.

However, because there is such a shortage of nurses, there are now reports NSW Health is considering including nurses who have left nursing in the last decade to return to work.

What do you think about retired nurses returning to work to help cope with the COVID crisis in NSW? Share your thoughts below.

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  1. If they are willing to come back. Why not. We gave a shortage in Canada British Columbia is where I am. I am a care aide here and we are also shirt. I am 70 absent still working because if it

  2. I think this country has neglected our hospitals and Aged Care far too long. It takes a pandemic to show the warts and all. We put too much reliance on overseas students when in fact we should be paying Australians more to want to do this sort of work.How do you attract Aussies to these industries particularly aged care. 1st You pay higher wages to attract and to retain people and 2nd you make sure the working conditions for for all emouees in these industries are fair and right for the best outcomes for all.

  3. Can’t imagine articles like this would entice nurses to return to work. You’ve told me I’m past it, and too old… but now you’re up shit creek I’m ok. How will australia change its messaging about older workers, and what action will the sector take to lead on inclusion of older workers.

  4. This is a brilliant idea for those who are willing, able and have agreed to have the COVID-19 vaccine.
    We are loosing valuable and wonderful staff in Aged Care who refuse the vaccine. I am sure the same must also be true elsewhere, including the reasons mentioned.
    Once a nurse, always a nurse.

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