In July this year we celebrate three years of operation for the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the Scheme) for nurses and midwives.
The process to achieve national regulatory processes for health professionals was complex. The ANF participated in the incredible amount of work generated over several years in revising underpinning policy and creating new policies and guidelines to establish the Scheme. For the nursing and midwifery professions, 1 July 2010 marked a critical moment in history when, for the first time in Australia, all nurses and midwives became registered on a central database. Each jurisdiction in Australia previously had differing registration processes (including registration cycles), necessitating a period of adjustment before the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) could compile national data. From 2012 NMBA now releases quarterly reports based on the national database information. More accurate information for us to work with government policy makers and bodies such as Health Workforce Australia means better nursing and midwifery workforce projections and planning.
In addition to the central database, benefits of national registration include: single overarching legislation governing nurse’s and midwives’ practice; national consistency in protected titles and regulatory standards; and, greater ease of mobility around the country with one registration process and fee. The establishment of national accreditation by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council means uniformity in accreditation standards for programs leading to registration for registered and enrolled nurses, registered midwives and Nurse Practitioners. This gives greater assurance to health and aged care employers of the education standard and competence of beginning practitioners.
The complex task of transferring state/territory based registration to a national Scheme has not been without difficulties. The ANF Branches work with members and with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (AHPRA), the Scheme’s administrator, to resolve problems as they arise.
The Victorian Government is currently inquiring into the performance of AHPRA – see ANF submission. Whilst not glossing over areas of poor performance, the ANF argues the implementation of the national scheme has brought tangible benefits to the Australian public through consistent professional standards and transparent management of registrants who are unable to practice safely.
The core role of nurses and midwives is provision of safe, competent health, midwifery and aged care. The ANF remains committed to supporting national registration and accreditation which gives us mechanisms to bring a greater level of protection to the public, for who we provide this care.
Federal Professional Officer