Nurse, midwife numbers on the rise
Numbers of nurses and midwives are rising in Australia ahead of population growth, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report "Nursing and midwifery workforce 2012" shows there were around 334,000 nurses and midwives registered in Australia in 2012, or 6.8 per cent more than the 313,000 registered in 2008.
"The number of nurses and midwives actually employed in nursing and midwifery also rose, from around 270,000 to around 290,000, or by 7.5 per cent over the same period," Dr Adrian Webster, AIHW spokesperson, said.
"Despite the relatively large increase in numbers, the supply of nurses and midwives rose by 0.5 per cent between 2008 and 2012-from 1118 to 1124 full-time equivalent nurses and midwives per 100,000 people."
The supply of nurses and midwives per 100,000 people varied between urban and more remote areas, however, unlike many health professions, the variation was relatively small and the supply was greatest in very remote areas rather than in more urban areas.
In major cities there were 1134 full-time equivalent nurses and midwives per 100,000 people, while in very remote areas this rate was 1303 per 100,000 people.
Of those employed in nursing and midwifery, over 238,000 were registered nurses (including midwives) and about 52,000 were enrolled nurses.
"There were around 31,000 midwives employed in 2012, almost all of whom were also registered nurses," Dr Webster said.
Of all employed clinical nurses and midwives, almost two-thirds worked in hospitals. The clinical area of nursing and midwifery with the largest number of workers was aged care (41,300), which includes work in both residential aged care facilities and hospitals.
Almost twice as many registered nurses worked in the public sector compared to the private sector, and nurses working in the public sector worked more hours on average than those in the private sector.
On the whole, the average weekly hours worked by employed nurses and midwives remained the same between 2008 and 2012, at 33.4 hours.
"Nursing and midwifery continue to be female-dominated professions, with women making up almost 90 per cent of employed nurses and midwives in 2012," Dr Webster said.
The average age of nurses and midwives rose slightly between 2008 and 2012, from 44.1 to 44.6 years.
"The proportion of older nurses and midwives has increased, with those aged 50 years and older increasing from 35 per cent to 39 per cent over the 2008-2012 period."