The Albanese Government’s review of the scope of practice of healthcare professionals, including nurses and midwives, as part of a $6.1 billion dollar funding package to strengthen Medicare, will offer a pathway for better access to healthcare across the community, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).
ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said the removal of red tape which prevents highly-skilled nurse practitioners (NP) and eligible midwives from providing patients with timely access to needed health services, and the 30% increase in Medicare rebates for NP care, will empower them to do what they’re qualified and trained to do, without the need for ‘collaborative arrangements’ with doctors.
“The ANMF and our members believe this is a positive, first-step in putting nurses and midwives at the centre of genuine Medicare reforms and playing a key role in multi-disciplinary models of care across the community,” Ms Butler said today.
“Under existing workplace arrangements, nurses and midwives are under-utilised, so these initiatives will start to recognise their true worth and how crucial they are in improving access to quality care for people when and where they need it, particularly in rural and regional areas, where crippling workforce shortages are continuing to impact healthcare.”
Ms Butler said $445 million for the Workforce Incentive Payment (WIP) would encourage eligible general practices to employ more nurses, NPs and midwives, but called on the Government to continue to develop funding models, which genuinely incentivise multi-disciplinary models of care, where a consumer can choose their lead clinician, to improve chronic disease management and, critically, reduce pressure on EDs and hospitals.
The ANMF welcomed $11.3 billion to fund the long-awaited 15% pay rise for the underpaid aged care workforce, but again re-emphasised the need for the Government to enforce tight-rules on providers’ use of the money.
“We applaud the Government’s genuine commitment to improving care for older Australians and valuing those caring for them, but we emphasise, once again, the critical need for the Government to formulate mechanisms which ensure accountability and transparency around these taxpayer funds to guarantee that all funding intended for wage increases is used solely for its intended purpose, that is, for the pay packets of all aged care workers. We will continue to work constructively with the Government to ensure this happens,” Ms Butler added.
The ANMF also welcomed $4.2 million for additional 6,000 practice nursing placements; $1m million to attract 500 previously Enrolled and Registered Nurses to return to the workforce; changes to scholarships to focus on nursing, midwifery and First Nations health workers; the tripling of the bulk-billing incentive payments for concession card holders, pensioners and people under 16; $818.5 million for First Nations health and the cost of living relief package, including increased access to the single parenting payment for children up to 14 and cheaper medicines.