Australia’s health care system ‘groaning at the seams’

Nurses are set to play a bigger part in delivering health care to patients around the country.

Nurses are set to play a bigger part in delivering health care to patients around the country. Photo: Getty

Patients in regional and remote areas will soon receive easier access to care under a plan to unleash the full potential of the nation’s nurses.

Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney introduced proposed laws to parliament on Wednesday, which would allow nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives to provide healthcare to people without the need for a doctor to give a tick of approval.

Nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives have completed further study and have extra qualifications.

Under the changes, they would continue to provide treatment within their scope of practice without the need for supervision from a doctor through a collaborative arrangement.

As the nation manages a chronic shortage of GPs, particularly in regional and remote areas, the bill aims to make it easier for Australians to access care by using all the skills available in the healthcare workforce.

Australia’s health system was “groaning at the seams”, Kearney told parliament.

“We need to have every single nurse practitioner and endorsed midwife running at their full capacity,” she said.

The change would come into effect from November if passed.

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association President Karen Booth said the government should continue to press on with “bold” reform to unleash the full potential of the nursing workforce.

“The health care system is struggling to meet demand and it is appropriate for governments to explore and implement new models of care,” she said.

Australian College of Midwives chief executive Helen White described the bill as “a win for women’s choice of maternity care”.


Topics: health care
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