The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation has welcomed a Report by the Nurse Practitioner’s Reference Group (NPRG) in relation to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce, saying it acknowledges the crucial role that Australia’s 1,745 endorsed Nurse Practitioners (NPs) play in delivering integrated, efficient health care across the community.
The NPRG was established last year to review 5,700 items on the MBS and make recommendations NPs can have access to a wider range of MBS rebates in order to provide improved health outcomes for patients, particularly those in remote, regional and Indigenous communities. Over the past five years, service volumes for NPs MBS items have grown at 42.8% per year and over 2016-17 accounted for around 419,000 services and $13 million in benefits.
The NPRG’s recommendations focused on four key areas:
- Supporting comprehensive and coordinated care for people with long-term health conditions and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- Enabling nurse practitioner care for all Australians;
- Addressing system inefficiencies caused by current MBS arrangements;
- Improving patient access to telehealth services.
ANMF Federal secretary Annie Butler said today: “The role of the of the NP is the most advanced clinical nursing role in Australia, with NPs having the additional responsibilities for patient assessment, diagnosis and management, referral, medications prescribing and the ordering and interpretation of diagnostic investigations.
“But NPs still have limited access to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and inadequate funding arrangements, which is preventing NPs from providing crucial health care to their full capacity. The ANMF welcomes the positive impact the NPRG’s recommendations would have if adopted and put into everyday clinical practice, particularly in rural and remote health, aged care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, primary and preventive health care.
“Importantly, the recommendations are supported by strong, relevant evidence, clinical knowledge and understanding of the important opportunities for increasing the contribution of NPs practitioners to deliver integrated, efficient health care to a broad spectrum of the Australian community.
“The recommendations would allow NPs to work to their full scope of practice and provide their patients access to MBS rebates for the wider range of procedures and services they could deliver, especially in areas where there are limited and poor in areas of Australia where communities have poor, or limited access to health services.”
Ms Butler said the recommendations align with the ANMF’s 2019-20 pre-Budget Submission to the Federal Government, calling for NPs to be given improved abilities to provide care in multi-disciplinary and advance care planning in residential aged care facilities; improving access to NP-performed procedures and NP-requested diagnostic imaging; enabling patients to access an MBS rebate for NP care in after-hours and out-of-clinic settings; removing the requirement for NPs to form collaborative arrangements will enable greater access to NP care and improving the ability of NPs to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient access to services through Closing the Gap pharmaceutical rebates.
ANMF media release authorised by Annie Butler, ANMF Federal Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne.
The ANMF, with over 275,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.
ANMF media inquiries: Richard Lenarduzzi 0411 254 390