Healthy bonus offered for staff to shore up SA health system

Interstate and overseas health workers will be offered up to $15,000 each to come work in SA’s health system, as state governments engage in a high-stakes poaching war for scarce health staff.

May 16, 2023, updated Jan 30, 2024
Premier Peter Malinauskas with RAH nurses in 2022. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Premier Peter Malinauskas with RAH nurses in 2022. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Premier Peter Malinauskas today revealed details of a $1.7m advertising campaign to attract allied health workers from interstate as well as New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The “For Work. For Life.” campaign, featuring advertisements in medical journals and social media spruiking the work and lifestyle benefits of South Australia, will run until the end of the year and eventually expand to Ireland, Canada and the United States.

The state government will also offer financial reimbursement between $10,000 to $15,000 to cover costs for health workers who choose to relocate to South Australia and sign a contract with SA Health before the end of the year.

Interstate and overseas health workers who take up a job within 100km of the CBD will be eligible for $10,000.

Those who take a job in a regional location (more than 100km outside the CBD) will be eligible for $13,000, while $15,000 will be on offer to those who relocate to remote South Australia.

The incentives are also open to existing South Australian health workers who wish to move from a metropolitan to country region.

The “For Work. For Life.” website pitching SA Health to interstate and overseas health professionals.

The announcement follows criticism from the Opposition over the weekend about the Victorian Government launching an “aggressive recruitment drive” to lure allied health professionals in Ireland and the UK.

Victoria currently offers $10,000 for overseas and returning Australian health workers who take up a job in Melbourne and $13,000 if they take up a job in a rural or regional health service.

Western Australia offers $12,000 HECS-HELP relief for graduate nurses who choose to work in regional WA, while Queensland offers interstate and overseas health workers $20,000 to work in Brisbane and up to $70,000 for doctors to move to regional or remote Queensland.

Asked if South Australia’s incentives were competitive with the Queensland Government’s offer, Health Minister Chris Picton said: “I think that what we’re providing is going to be competitive.

“I think that we offer a very competitive position here in South Australia in terms of the salary packages, the conditions that we offer as well as the incentives to move here, as well as the great work-life balance here in South Australia,” he said this morning.

“It’s far significantly lower cost of living you have in this state as well.

“But we’ll continue to monitor the situation nationally and internationally.”

The “For Work. For Life.” website pitching SA Health’s working benefits to interstate and overseas health professionals.

Picton said there would be no cap on the number of financial incentives the state government hands out under the scheme.

He highlighted the discontent of health workers in the UK, where tens of thousands of nurses and paramedics walked off the job earlier this year to strike for better pay and conditions.

“I think we all would have seen those pictures of doctors striking in the UK and singing songs about how there’s much better pay and conditions on offer here in Australia,” Picton said.


Junior Doctors sing a message to the government to the tune of Angels by Robbie Williams – recorded outside UCL Hospital in Central London on Tuesday 11 April 2023 #juniordoctorstrikes #nhs #saveournhs #london #robbiewilliams

♬ original sound – Ali

“Seeing those images and hearing those songs was music to my ears because we want to recruit as many of those doctors from the UK and other countries as possible.

InDaily in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

“We’re making it as easy as possible for that to happen and we’re also being active in the international market in terms of recruiting extra doctors and nurses for our healthcare system.”

Picton also highlighted data showing SA Health has hired 278 extra nurses, 141 extra ambos, 89 extra doctors and 42 extra allied health workers from March 2022 to March 2023.

Labor set a pre-election goal to hire 350 extra nurses, 350 extra ambos and 100 extra doctors.

Opposition leader David Speirs today described the new incentives scheme as “fairly modest”.

“Yes, this is a start, and we cautiously welcome this, but it is nowhere near what other states are offering,” he told reporters.

“So, we’re hugely uncompetitive when it comes to what is a highly competitive marketplace.”

Speirs also said it was “inaccurate” to suggest South Australia’s cost of living is lower than other states, pointing to the higher cost of renting Adelaide compared to Melbourne.

“These really aren’t incentives, they’re reimbursements to cover some relocation costs up to that $10,000 figure if people relocate to South Australia,” he said.

‘Focus week’ off to tough start

The Opposition also today highlighted public health data showing all South Australian hospitals hit “code white” after 5pm on Monday.

A code white is the highest rating above capacity, meaning that a hospital’s emergency department has all of its treatment rooms being used.

Noarlunga Hospital was at 185 per cent capacity last night while Flinders was at 171 per cent and the Queen Elizabeth at 152 per cent.

It comes at the start of a new SA Health initiative, “focus week”, which is trialling new programs to improve patient flow through the public hospital system.

“Our health system is facing unprecedented pressure and the results from Focus Week need to be released publicly, along with a plan from Labor about what they’re going to implement,” Opposition health spokesperson Ashton Hurn said.

“It’s shocking that on the very first day of Focus Week our hospitals plunge into code whites and our emergency departments transform into a log jam for hours on end.”

Picton said Mondays were usually a busy day for the public hospital system but acknowledged that “we need additional capacity in the system”.

“This is obviously an important week for the health system in relation of trialling a whole lot of new measures in terms of making sure that we can focus on improving flow through the system,” he said.

“We know that Mondays are obviously always very busy, we had a very busy day yesterday, but we’re seeing some measures being put in place which are going to continue that improvement that we’re seeing right across the system.

“We know very clearly though that we need additional capacity in the system.”

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.