12 September 2023

The Minns Labor Government will bolster the recruitment and retention of health workers by committing more than $120 million towards health worker study subsidies in the budget.

The NSW Government will support 12,000 healthcare students with study subsidies over five years, fulfilling a key election health pledge.

New students will receive scholarships of $4,000 per year. Existing students will receive one-off payments of $8,000.

Students can begin applying for this support from 1 January 2024 and must be willing to make a five-year commitment to the NSW public health system.

The Minns Government is investing is investing $121.9 million over five years in the program, as it moves to further rebuild essential services as part of its upcoming budget.

Attracting skilled healthcare workers to work in the NSW health system is a challenge, made all the harder after 12 years of under-funding and neglect by the former Liberal National government.

This has been further exacerbated by competitive remuneration and employment conditions in other states and other sectors, presenting challenges to recruitment and retention.

That’s why the Minns Government abolished the damaging wages cap for NSW Government healthcare workers and delivered the largest pay increase for the workforce in more than a decade.

Improving incentives for students to enter the health workforce, by reducing financial barriers to study, will improve recruitment and retention and lift health outcomes for patients.

The scholarship program will be open to all healthcare degrees.

Each year, up to 850 student nurses, 400 medical students and 150 people studying midwifery will enter the scholarship program, along with students in other areas including paramedicine, Aboriginal health, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Those already engaged in study will be eligible to apply for an $8,000 one-off payment upon graduation as a transitional arrangement, ensuring people who have already started studying are also recognised in this policy.

The rollout of health worker subsidies is the latest in a comprehensive suite of measures the NSW Government is undertaking to rebuild the health system, including:

  • Building an engaged, capable and supported workforce, beginning with implementing safe staffing levels, with a memorandum of understanding signed with nurses just last month;
  • Improving health workforce conditions, including abolishing the wages cap and rolling out study subsidies;
  • Enhancing the accessibility and delivery of healthcare across rural and regional NSW, including with a boost to regional paramedics; doubling rural health incentives and expanding the single employer model;
  • Safely delivering the essential health services our community deserves, including through a special commission of inquiry into health funding;
  • Reducing surgery wait times with the establishment of a surgical care taskforce; and
  • Providing the health infrastructure and technology for communities across NSW, including by embracing urgent care and virtual care, relieving pressure on our hospitals.

The Minns Labor Government remains committed to improving the essential health services our community deserve and building an engaged, capable and supported workforce.

At the same time, NSW is confronted with deteriorating fiscal conditions, left by the Liberals and Nationals.

In addition to record debt, the Liberals made more than $7 billion worth of promises they could not pay for, including not permanently funding 1,112 nurses and midwives working in NSW Hospitals.

The Minns Labor government is now making the careful and necessary decisions to address the holes left in the budget by the Liberals to ensure we can fund quality healthcare that people rely on.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Ryan Park:

“We know that not only do we need to recruit more health workers, we need to retain them, and today’s announcement bolsters that effort.

“This is just one of the suite of measures we are undertaking in building a supported workforce.

“By boosting and supporting our health workforce, we will improve patient outcomes.”