The ANMF has opposed Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia proposed changes to the recency of practice standard which would mean an ‘unwarranted’ addition of 300 hours of practice required in a five-year period.
In our submission to the NMBA, ANMF said the current requirement of 450 practice hours in five years in the recency of practice registration standard is sufficient.
The last decade of data shows there is no evidence to suggest that the current requirement presents a risk to the public, ANMF contends.
ANMF also put forward legal advice that the proposed increase in practice hours required over a five-year period may be ‘indirect discrimination’ because of the impact on a predominantly female workforce.
The hurdles that women face in returning to the workforce after pregnancy, maternity leave, caring for children, and caring for older parents, are well-known, but 450 practice hours within five years to meet the recency of practice standard had proved to be achievable.
An added layer of difficulty is lack of re-entry programs or access to supervised practice.
‘There are very few re-entry programs approved by the NMBA and many states and territories do not have any such approved programs,’ the ANMF’s submission says.
‘An increase of almost 67% in minimum hours, unsupported by evidence of risk to the community or other valid reason for change, is inexplicable.
‘The disadvantage is exacerbated if, as is often the case, a woman chooses to have another child, close to the time of the birth of the first child, within the five-year period.’
ANMF believes the NMBA’s proposal is especially difficult to understand given its 2015 Consultation Report on Recency of Practice says that after receiving feedback on the current recency of practice requirements, ‘NMBA considered that the existing requirements should remain as there have been no regulatory risks identified with this requirement and no issues raised about practitioners returning to practice following an absence of up to five years.’
Despite NMBA’s claim that the proposed change is underpinned by a literature review and international best practice, ANMF says its data tables in support of the increased hours are ‘unclear, difficult to interpret and do not seem to support any need for change.’
ANMF also opposed the NMBA’s proposed requirement for graduates to complete 300 hours of practice in two years.
‘There are a number of graduates who struggle to find employment after completing their program of study and an arbitrary two year period would put more pressure and stress on graduates to be employed,’ ANMF’s submission says.
ANMF was also concerned the requirement could result in an increasing number of graduates turning to casual employment, with insufficient structure and supports in place.
The ANMF recommends that the recency of practice requirement for graduates remains consistent with all other nurses and midwives – a minimum of 450 hours in the five years from the date they were awarded their qualification.