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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2753

Senator McINTOSH —Is the Minister for Veterans' Affairs aware that a number of wards in the Repatriation General Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, have been closed due to the shortage of nurses? Are measures being taken to overcome this shortage of nurses?

Senator GIETZELT —Senator McIntosh has highlighted a very acute problem that exists at the repatriation hospital in Perth. We are very concerned about the current shortage of nurses that exists not only in that State but throughout Australia. In particular, the circumstances at Hollywood require some specialised and extraordinary recruitment steps to be taken to solve the acute problem that exists there. I think it largely flows from the fact that it is difficult to get nurses to move from the eastern seaboard to the western seaboard, no matter how many people regard Perth as a pleasant place in which to live. There is no surplus of nurses in the rest of Australia. Therefore, it is difficult for us to recruit nurses from those who work in the public and private hospital systems. The problem has been accentuated by the granting of the 38- hour week. This means that the hospital staffs are working at greater pressure. However, we have taken steps at Hollywood to establish a refresher course, and have taken advantage of the community employment program to try to attract back into the nursing service those who have left the service to work in other occupations. Out of 100 applications for the refresher course, 25 have been selected. We hope that in the due process of time the problem in Perth will be solved so that the work of the hospital and patient care will be adequately protected.