Shortages in health sector extend to community child health nurses

The Opposition says the McGowan Labor Government must urgently address the significant gap in the number of community child health nurses across the State.

Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning Donna Faragher said recent answers to questions in State Parliament showed there are approximately 40 full time equivalent community child health nurse positions vacant across the Child and Adolescent Health Service and the WA Country Health Service.

“CAHS and WACHS each have around 20 full time positions vacant, and I am being told this is having an impact on operating hours and wait times for children and their families to receive vital universal child health checks and other supports,” Mrs Faragher said.

“Further answers have also revealed that 233 children are currently on a ‘standby’ list for a child health check.

“This includes a significant jump in the number of children on the list for the Swan Child Health Region, which is at 92, up from 26 children in June 2022 – a three-fold increase.

“In the Central West Region, 41 children are waiting and in the Bentley and Lower West Regions, there are 25 children respectively on the standby list for a child health check.

“This is not a reflection on the capacity of community child health nurses who deliver an outstanding service rather it is recognition the service is under pressure and more support is needed,” Mrs Faragher said.

Universal child health checks are delivered by community child health nurses at key stages of a child’s early life. With a focus on overall health and development, these checks provide a valuable opportunity to identify any concerns and to help families put strategies in place to support their child in their early years.

“The Government needs to focus attention on this critical area and identify opportunities to reduce the number of vacant community child health nurse positions across our State,” Mrs Faragher said.

Shadow Minister for Health Libby Mettam said like health workers across the hospital system, our child health nurses are continuing to do more with less.

“Our child health nurses play a vitally important role in delivering early intervention healthcare, leading to better patient and learning outcomes for the child as well as better outcomes for the health system so it is essential the McGowan Government addresses these issues with some urgency,” Mrs Mettam said.