The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by honing its regulatory approach and adopting new mechanisms to provide certainty for nurses and midwives across the country.
In a wide-ranging release provided to the ANMJ, the NMBA explained its revised position on areas such as Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and registration fees, while reminding nurses and midwives about issues such as notification and self-care.
A renewal payment plan for COVID-19 financial hardship
With the COVID-19 significantly disrupting the livelihoods of some nurses and midwives, the NMBA has announced a payment plan for those experiencing genuine financial hardship.
“If you meet the [NMBA’s] criteria, you will be eligible to pay half your registration fee now and make a second payment by October 2020,” they said, adding that more information about eligibility and how to apply is on its renewal FAQ webpage.
Additionally, those applying for financial hardship assistance are asked to do so before renewing their registration fees, with the NMBA unable to assist if registration renewal is already completed.
Nurses and midwives who didn’t receive an email about registration renewal are asked to confirm their details are up to date using the AHPRA website.
The NMBA had advised in September last year that fees would be increased by indexation at 3% to ensure they retained the same financial value as the previous registration period, so it had sufficient income to allow it to carry out its duties and protect the public.
Subsequently AHPRA has said it will balance “the financial sustainability of the scheme to continue to protect the public… with the circumstances of individual applicants and access to the workforce” when assessing requests for assistance.
While the NMBA continues to encourage nurses and midwives to undertake additional training when it is available, it “will not take action if a nurse or midwife declares that they could not meet their required CPD hours for the 2019-20 registration period,” the organisation said.
However, while the current environment may make it difficult for nurses and midwives to meet their requirements, the NMBA made it clear it still requires honest and accurate answers to its renewal questions.
Self-declaring existing health issues
Nurses and midwives are asked once again to declare in this year’s renewal if they suffer from a physical or mental health condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence) that detrimentally affects their ability to practise safely.
The NMBA has advised registrants “to think carefully about this question,” but have distinguished the aforementioned impairments from those that don’t detrimentally affect the ability to practise, citing prescription glasses or the time taken off work for a fractured arm as examples of the latter.
Ensuring self-care while practicing
Alluding to the ongoing pandemic, the NMBA has also reminded nurses and midwives that they aren’t expected to risk their own personal safety while working.
“We urge you to ensure effective use of personal protective equipment and follow relevant infection control requirements and public health advice,” the organisation said, adding that it understands that some services will be restricted as a result of these recommendations.
“The NMBA is aware some health services will be reduced or stopped, including where care cannot be given in ways that ensure both the health practitioner and the patient’s safety.”
The registry board also recommended that nurses and midwives in need of support should utilise the free and confidential 24 hour phone service provided by Nurse and Midwives Support (1800 667 877).