Nurses and midwives to have a voice on the new Strengthening Medicare Taskforce

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler. Photograph by Chris Hopkins

Nurses and midwives will be represented at the  Federal Government’s new Strengthening Medicare Taskforce with the appointment of The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s Federal Secretary Annie Butler.

Health Minister Mark Butler said members of the Taskforce would work together to identify key recommendations for the Government to deliver on its pre-election pledge to strengthen Australia’s universal healthcare system.

“I am delighted to be part of the Taskforce, to represent nurses, midwives and care workers across the country who work under the Medicare system each and every day,” Ms Butler said.

“Too often, the previous Morrison Government failed to include nursing and midwifery professionals in “consultations” with health stakeholders. As a result, because nurses and midwives weren’t represented at the table, their voices and input weren’t recognised in the formulation of equitable health policies for all Australians. It’s therefore refreshing that the new Government recognises that importance of nurses and midwives in these critical discussions shaping long-overdue health reforms.”

Ms Butler joins a range of health professionals on the Taskforce, including consumer, rural and regional and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives from across the country.

The task force will work to deliver concrete results through its recommendations, including

  • Improved patient access to general practice, including after hours
  • Improved patient access to GP-led multidisciplinary team care, including nursing and allied health
  • Greater patient affordability
  • Better management of ongoing health conditions including chronic conditions
  • Decreased pressure on hospitals

Ms Butler said the unrelenting experience of the COVID-19 pandemic had not only exhausted workforces and significantly increased demand for health services and resources, but had revealed the cracks in our health and aged systems which have been allowed to deepen over the last decade.

She argued previous governments cynically attacked Medicare, such as introducing ever-increasing co-payments, cutting many bulk-billing incentives and freezing rebates which made it harder for people to get the care they need and adding to the already-excessive workloads of frontline healthcare workers.

“Medicare is a wonderful scheme but it’s 40 years old and needs for meaningful reform so that it can continue to provide the best for our community – ensuring that healthcare is affordable and accessible for everyone, so every Australian can access care when and where they need it.

“We can only achieve this if we have genuine integration, consultation and collaboration with all key health stakeholders, so we can work with the Government to deliver improvements to Medicare for the benefit of everyone in the community.”

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