Health Minister Ryan Park has announced that the Illawarra's hospitals will get an influx of new nursing staff in 2024, with 173 graduate nurses and midwives to start work across the region.
Across the state, more than 3,400 graduate nurses and midwives will commence work in the NSW public health system, Mr Park said.
This year's allocation is slightly more than in 2023, when 166 new graduate nurses and midwives began work in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District under the Coalition government.
Mr Park welcomed the graduates to the health system and his local area.
"I welcome these graduates who have chosen a rewarding career not only with NSW Health but also Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD and thank them for their commitment to providing high quality, compassionate healthcare to the people of NSW," he said.
"NSW has one of the best health systems in the world, and throughout their career I am determined to give these new nurses and midwives the support they need to make it even better."
Before being elected health minister, Mr Park said overhauling staffing for nurses and midwives in hospitals was his top priority.
Since taking on the job, Labor has set up a taskforce to implement its promised "staff staffing levels", abolished the Coalition's wages cap for public sector workers, and funded 1112 temporary nursing jobs across the state to become permanent.
Despite this, Wollongong nurses said their working conditions remained worse than ever at the end of 2023, with a survey revealing the vast majority were feeling burnt out and underpaid.
Union delegates from the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association said record demand at hospitals and a push to get people through the hospital quickly was adding to their exhaustion, with members becoming impatient as they wait for new staffing ratios.
"We understand it will take time, but people were really excited that maybe something will change - but we're nine months down the track and we're not seeing any change," Wollongong Hospital NSW NMA branch president Bianca Vergouw said.
"We still feel underpaid and unsupported, and we're still working short most shifts. For people working on the floor, they just walk into work and nothing has changed."
Late last year, Mr Park's office said the government was working closely with union representatives to "deliver on seismic structural reforms to foster a supported and capable workforce".
"Nurses care for and treat patients often in the most distressing of circumstances, which has not been helped by 12 years of underinvestment in our state's health workforce," the spokesperson said.
"These are ambitious reforms the NSW Government will achieve by listening to and working with our frontline staff."