The Australian College of Nursing has today called for major changes in health care funding and delivery models to improve outcomes for poorly serviced populations, including the aged, people with multiple, chronic diseases and those who are marginalised and disadvantaged by geography, culture or poverty.
Releasing ACN’s A New Horizon for Health Service: Optimising Advanced Practice Nursing White Paper, CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said Australia’s health care system is failing some members of our community, in part because it has failed to recognise the full scope of skills, services and support the nursing profession can provide.
“Our health care system needs to be modernised,” Adjunct Professor Ward argued. “We are clinging to the past by predicating health care policy and funding on the assumption that services need to be led by a medical practitioner.
“What today’s health care challenges require are patient-centred health care models where the contribution of all members of the health care team are valued and respected. ACN argues that nursing, in particular, is underutilised.”
ACN is proposing a new national clinical nursing workforce framework which includes recognition of the advanced practice nurse as a ‘well established and developed clinician with a level and type of practice that functions at the full extent of the registered nurse practice scope’.
“Advanced practice nurses are a solution to Australia’s health care challenges hiding in plain sight,” Adjunct Professor Ward said. “Advanced practice nurses can help deliver care where current services are scant, ineffective, inappropriate or not yet considered.”
The World Health Organisation’s Triple Impact Report found that enabling nurses to utilise their knowledge and skills to the full is key to improving universal health coverage.
“Nursing is the largest health care workforce in Australia. The nursing workforce has the highest match to population across the country, including rural and remote areas,” Adjunct Professor Ward said. “Nurses are most likely to be the first health professional seen by people in remote and very remote communities both for specialist and primary care needs. It is time our regulatory and funding models match how health care is being delivered and empower nurses to provide all the care they can.”
ACN is calling on all levels of government to work with the profession to explore and implement reforms to enable increased utilisation of advanced practice nurses to improve the quality, relevance and access of health services for all Australian communities.
“One of the most significant changes we are seeking is for funding to be provided based on patient outcomes rather than individual service events,” Adjunct Professor Ward explained. “We know there will be critics of this new way of thinking about health care, but our current system is no longer serving us as well as it could or as well as patients deserve.
“We are not claiming nursing to be the whole solution, no single profession is. What we are saying is that optimising our senior clinical nursing workforce is vital to improving health care for all Australians.”