Nursing and midwifery workforce

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has presented their latest report: Nursing and midwifery workforce 2011. The report presents information on the nursing and midwifery workforce, based primarily on estimates derived from the National Health Workforce Data Set.

Main findings of the report included:

  • In 2011, the total number of nurses and midwives registered in Australia was 326,669, a 6.8 percent increase since 2007 (305,834).
  • Between 2007 and 2011, the number of nurses and midwives employed in nursing or midwifery increased by 7.7 percent from 263, 331 to 283,577.
  • Of these people employed in nursing and midwifery, 36,074 were midwives, though only 15,523 reported working in midwifery as the principle area of their main job.
  • Overall, nursing and midwifery supply decreased by 1.3 percent between 2007 and 2011, from 1,095.1 to 1,081.1 full time equivalent nurses and midwives per 100,000 population based on a 38 hour week.
  • Nursing and midwifery supply across regions ranged from 1,101.6 full time equivalent nurses and midwives per 100,000 population in major cities to 994.7 in outer regional areas to 1,335.5 in very remote areas, based on a 38 hour week.

Demographic findings included:

  • Nursing and midwifery continued to be a female-dominated profession, with women comprising 90.1 percent of employed nurses and midwives in 2011.
  • The average age of the nursing and midwifery workforce increased between 2007 and 2011. The proportion of nurses and midwives aged 50 or older increased from 33 percent to 38.6 over this period.

Working arrangement findings included:

  • The average weekly hours worked by employed nurses and midwives decreased from 33.3 hours in 2007 to 32.8 hours in 2011.
  • Of all employed clinical nurses and midwives, almost two-thirds worked in hospitals.
  • Almost two-thirds of all nurses and midwives reported working in the public sector, and these nurses and midwives worked on average 2.4 hours more per week than their private sector counterparts.
  • The clinical area of nursing and midwifery with the largest number of workers in 2011 was aged care, which also had the highest proportion of enrolled nurses.

The AIHW’s report concluded that the number of nurses and midwives is increasing, but not keeping up with population growth. Consequently, the question remains: How can we save Australia from a nursing crisis?

To read more about Australia’s nursing workforce please see:
To download and read the report in full, please click here.
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