Nurses in GP clinics stuck ‘doing paperwork’ instead of treating patients

The 2023-24 survey found that highly-qualified registered and enrolled primary health care nurses working in general practice, with an average of over 21 years’ experience, are being prevented from providing vital clinical work such as women’s health and mental health assessments, suturing, and diabetes and arthritis education, instead regularly working on the ‘front desk’ of clinics.

Non-clinical work undertaken by GP nurses included:

  • 68.8% doing recalls and/or patient appointment reminders
  • 32 % stock management and ordering
  • 16% working at reception.

“It really is a complete waste of time having highly qualified and very experienced registered nurses sitting on the front desk, whilst people are waiting longer and longer to see a doctor,” APNA President Karen Booth, said.

“Nurses in the survey told us they are ready, willing and able to do more clinically, and provide the care they’ve been trained to do. New laws will soon allow nurse practitioners (NPs) and endorsed midwives to work to their full set of skills without the need to be over-seen under a collaborative arrangement with a GP, and now it’s time that registered and enrolled nurses are able to do the same.”

Nurses surveyed reported a lack of understanding about their skills and scope of practice, and lack of time to provide care due to having to carry out admin tasks.

“The system is broken and has been for years. No one cares to listen to us when we say this. Instead, we continue to be over worked and under paid, and poorly supported by management” one respondent said.

Ms Booth said enabling primary healthcare nurses to do more would make it easier for people to access care when and where they need it, particularly in rural and remote regions facing shortages.

“Nurses are valued, trusted and skilled but are chronically underutilised at a time of severe workforce shortage. Nurses are here to make Australia healthier and instead are underutilised.”

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