Let nurses care for patients in regional areas

Saturday 30th January, 2010

The Australian Nursing Federation and the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners has called for calm amid hysterical and offensive dialogue coming from some healthcare sectors on the issue of nurse practitioners.

ANF Federal Secretary Ged Kearney said recent comments by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners the ACT Division of General Practice (ACTDGP), the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Pharmacy Guild implying nurse practitioners would harm their patients is insulting.

“It is offensive and irrational to imply nurse practitioners who have extensive education and experience would do anything beyond their sphere of expertise. In fact all the evidence shows the care provided by these nurses is excellent,” she said.

“Nurse practitioners want to assist patients who are falling through the healthcare gap, this is especially important for regional consumers, some of whom have limited access to healthcare.”

“Unfortunately an issue that should be about providing patients with the care they require has spiraled into a turf war.”

“Giving nurse practitioners access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is about caring for consumers.

The ANF and ACNP are concerned that GPs and Pharmacists are prepared to deny regional patients – some of who are waiting up to six weeks for treatment – more choice.

“On the one hand you have doctors saying they are over-stretched and on the other hand they refuse to share healthcare with capable nurse practitioners. This is an attempt to keep all rebates in doctors’ pockets.”

Helen Gosby president of the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners said nurse practitioners, like all healthcare experts, worked collaboratively to achieve the best outcomes for patients.

“Nurse practitioners are one of the most regulated in the healthcare sector meaning they are also one of the safest,” she said.

“Nurse practitioners should not have to seek doctor approval for patient care they are capable of doing autonomously.”