More than 1000 NSW final-year medical students will be working in hospitals in paid positions to reduce pressure on hospitals in the state's latest bid to aid the system battered by COVID-19.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the Assistant in Medicine (AiM) initiative was initially introduced in 2020 as a temporary workforce surge measure during the pandemic but it was so successful, it made sense for it to continue.
"This Australian-first program is good for students, good for hospital workers and it's great for patients," he told reporters on Sunday.
Mr Perrottet said the pilot program expanded from 400 part-time positions to 1100 final-year medical students who have been placed across regional and metropolitan hospitals as part of the state's $33 billion investment in health.
Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said the program allows "medical students who are highly qualified ... to get into the system fast ... and to have a really significant role".
The announcement comes on the back of pharmacists being authorised by the government to administer a wider range of vaccinations. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners slammed the move as "madness" and "a recipe for disaster" earlier this month.
Dr Jose Arguelles, who underwent the paid placement AiM program, said the initiative provides hands-on training and enables future doctors to navigate the health system by taking on patient care.
"You're given a set of responsibilities coming in day in and day out and learning about these patients - that's a privilege.
"It's a human job as well. We're not just robots," he said.
A Bureau of Health Information survey, released earlier this month, reported that NSW hospitals were less organised, their staff were not working together effectively and the care being provided was not as good.
It asked more than 19,000 adult patients to rate the care they received throughout 202. The results showed worse outcomes than the 2020 survey.
More than one in five patients reported receiving contradictory information about their condition or how it would be treated.