The number of employed nurses in Australia has fallen 8% in six
years, from a high of 209,000 in 1991 to 192,000 in 1997, according
to Nursing Labour Force 1995, a report released today by
the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Not only have nurse numbers dropped, so has the number of
students graduating from nursing courses-down 12% between 1993 and
1996. The number of students starting nursing courses is also
falling-by 11.4% between 1993 and 1997.
Head of the AIHW's Labour Force Unit, John Harding, said that in
public hospitals, where nearly half of all nurses were employed,
nurses were coping with increasing numbers of patients, although
there had been little change to nurses' workloads in terms of
staffing per available hospital bed.
'Between 1985-86 and 1995-96, the number of full-time equivalent
nurses in these hospitals fell by 1% from 77,600 to 76,800. The
average number of patients per full-time nurse increased by almost
50% over this period, but staffing per available bed was little
changed while occupied bed days per nurse fell by 6.5 per
Mr Harding said that the changes aligned with the increased
patient throughput and shorter average lengths of stay
characteristic of public hospitals over the period, and increased
productivity by an older, more experienced and more highly trained
Other findings in the report include:
6 November 1998
Further information: Warwick Conn, ph. 02 6244
1154.For media copies of the report: Lena Searle, ph.
02 6244 1032.Availability: Check the AIHW for details.
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.