Queensland is offering tens of thousands of dollars of tax-free bonuses to attract doctors, nurses and health professionals to the state amid what’s been called a health sector “arms race”.
The state’s key industry groups have welcomed the announcement, which offers $20,000 to health care workers and up to $70,000 to doctors who move to Queensland from interstate and overseas to work. Australian Medical Association (AMA) Queensland president Maria Boulton said the initiative “will help address critical shortages”.
“We have far too many maternity units closed or on indefinite bypass across Queensland, with others hanging on by a thread … as they try to do their best in a broken system,” she said. We have been urging the Queensland government for action in key areas of workforce shortages and they have heeded our calls.” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the new incentives made Queensland the most attractive state for health professionals to work.
“We’ve got now the best wages and conditions in the country; we have the best nurse-to-patient ratios and other conditions that will see us well ahead of those other jurisdictions.”
The Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) has welcomed the incentives but said a wider, more-coordinated approach is needed. To address understaffing and demand for care, a national plan must be put in place to ensure safe workloads and the provision of quality care in all Australian communities,” acting secretary Kate Veach said.
Job can be anywhere in state
Interstate or overseas health workers will receive $20,000 if they move to Queensland to take a job anywhere in the state, including in Brisbane.
It’s being offered to medical doctors and specialists, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, dentists, oral health practitioners and scientific officers.
Ms D’Ath said it’ll be paid in two instalments: “$10,000 up front at commencement; another $10,000 at 12 months.” Doctors moving to remote and regional Queensland will receive an additional $50,000, paid in two $25,000 payments at three months and 12 months into their roles.
It is also available to practitioners already working in Queensland. Both incentive packages are tax free. We need surgeons, we need obstetricians, we need anaesthetists, we need podiatrists, we need ophthalmologists — there isn’t one speciality that I wouldn’t want to see increase, and particularly in the regions,” Ms D’Ath said.
All state and territory governments must work with the federal government to develop and implement a coordinated and consistent workforce plan to recruit and retain health workers, paying particular attention to rural and remote regions, The government could also better promote regional vacancies. There is also an opportunity for the government to implement new models of care … to increase the authority and delegation of nurses and midwives to provide care where and when it’s needed,
Dr Boulton said the AMAQ believes more could be done to retain workers.