The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has called on the Albanese Government to use the upcoming Federal Budget to implement historic reforms of Medicare, including funding nurses and midwives to work to their full scope of practice.
It follows today’s release of the final report from the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce which recommends additional funding to allow frontline nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to deliver care in primary health settings, as part of a new model of multi-disciplined care for patients.
“Highly-qualified healthcare professionals, such as nurses, midwives, nurse practitioners (NPs) and other health professionals, who up until now, have been unable to fully work to their full capacity, expertise and skill must be central to the reform of Australia’s universal healthcare system,” ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.
The federal government has committed $750 million to the Strengthening Medicare Fund, the start of a major of the primary care system.
“Medicare has been the crowning achievement of our health system for 40 years, but it is time for reform. Now is the time to ensure Medicare delivers the kind of primary care Australians expect, both now and into the future,” Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said on the report’s release today.
Patient centred care is central to the recommendations of the Taskforce report, supported by an expansion of multidisciplinary care as the key to managing the health of an older population with more complex and chronic disease.
The report recommends supporting this with new blended funding models, integrated with the existing fee-for-service model, allowing teams of GPs, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to work together to deliver the care people need.
Ms Butler, who sits on the Taskforce, said it was crucial the Albanese Government and State and Territory leaders work together and ‘not waste this historic opportunity for reform’ by ensuring that nurses and midwives are at the centre of patient care in the community. This will ensure affordable, accessible care for all Australians – when and where they need it.
“Nurses, NPs and midwives provide quality care in every setting in Australia including in rural and remote settings, where often, there are no GP’s. It’s just common-sense to allow them to work to their full scope of practice in these settings.
“With appropriate stand-alone ‘block funding’ for nurses working in general practice, people would be able to see a registered nurse for a whole range of health care and chronic disease management checks, would care, immunisations, sick certificates and health promotion and prevention, which would certainly reduce the number of people having to go to hospital for these everyday care episodes.
“We’re calling on the Government to back the Taskforce’s report and allow nurses to do what they’re trained and qualified to do for the benefit of the whole community, particularly in rural and regional areas, and other areas of disadvantage, where workforce shortages are having an even greater impact on access to care.
“After 40-years, Medicare just isn’t working as it should and must be changed to meet the growing demands of our fast-ageing population. The Taskforce’s recommendation for blended funding models, which will allow full wrap-around care for all communities are very welcome.”