More nurses needed in rural and remote communities

Monday 24th May, 2010

The Australian Nursing Federation wants more incentives to boost nurse numbers in rural and remote communities where there is a severe drought of healthcare professionals.

ANF assistant federal secretary, Lee Thomas said nurses should be playing a much greater role in filling the healthcare void in regional Australia, especially in those communities without a GP.

“We need a multi-pronged approach. Of course we need more doctors, but let’s not underestimate the benefit and expertise offered by nurses and other allied health professionals. A flexible approach is required to tackle the inequality of healthcare access experienced by many,” she said.

“Hardworking nurses are already caring for rural communities. That great work should be multiplied by increasing the number of non-metro nurses. The best way to achieve this is with incentives that help nurses shift and then settle into a community.”

“Rural Australians deserve the same healthcare options as everyone else,” Ms Thomas said. “Why should someone in a regional or remote setting be forced to drive long distances or wait for weeks to see a GP when they could potentially have access to a highly experienced nurse?”

“Patients with chronic and complex diseases, women requiring personalised health checks and parents of young children will all benefit from being able to see a nurse for their needs locally and affordably.”

“While recent budget announcements for practice nurses are welcome, much broader incentives are needed to assist nurses to move to regional areas.”

Ms Thomas said it was time to offer rural consumers more healthcare options.

“The solution to access of healthcare in regional and remote areas is not just about doctors. It’s about a flexible approach to health with the ultimate goal being improving the health and health choices of regional and remote Australians.”