Primary care nurses want to do more: Survey

Matt Woodley

12/05/2020 3:49:37 PM

The nationwide workforce survey, released on International Nurses Day, found 45% of primary care nurses feel underutilised.

Nurse collecting sample for coronavirus.
The overwhelming majority of primary care nurses reported feeling either satisfied or very satisfied with their job.

Nearly 1700 of Australia’s 82,000 primary care nurses responded to the survey, which was conducted by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) and later used by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to form a profile of primary healthcare nurses.
While nearly half of respondents said that often or most of the time their skills aren’t being fully used, the overwhelming majority (80%) reported feeling either satisfied or very satisfied with their job.
According to the AIHW’s profile, two thirds of primary healthcare nurses reported working in general practice settings in 2019, with registered nurses comprising 82% of the overall cohort.
Survey respondents reported possessing an average of 21 years’ nursing experience and 10 years specifically in primary care.
APNA President Karen Booth said the main reason given for refusing an extension of the nurse role is that there is no financial incentive for the employer under Medicare, and that the underutilisation of Australia’s experienced and qualified primary care nursing sector represents a significant lost opportunity for the Australian health system.
‘Primary health care nurses must be empowered to work to their full potential as Australia faces the twin challenges of an ageing population and rising rates of chronic disease beyond COVID-19,’ she said.
‘Nurses not only need the support of their employer but the system has to change too … we need flexible funding models that make the most of everyone in the primary health team. This will enable better care for patients and prevent serious illness from developing.
‘We need predictability and assured funding that supports proactive, preventive, managed care to keep people well and supported in their community, avoiding unnecessary hospitalisations.’
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon responded to the survey’s findings by acknowledging the importance of primary care nurses. He encouraged GPs to utilise their skills whenever appropriate.
‘It is important Australians recognise and understand the vital contribution our hardworking primary care nurses make to our healthcare system,’ he told newsGP.
‘I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our primary care nurses across Australia and urge the general practice community to empower this invaluable group to maximise the various ways they can assist in the delivery of high-quality, patient-centred holistic care.’
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care also recognised the ‘critical’ role of nurses and midwives in an open letter signed by CEO Adjunct Professor Debora Picone and Chair Professor Villis Marshall.
‘In recent times and currently, Australia has faced exceptional challenges to the health and wellbeing of all Australians – drought, bushfires and now the pandemic,’ the letter states.
‘Throughout, our nurses and midwives have been on the frontline displaying high levels of skill, knowledge and deep empathy, reflected in the way the Australian health system has ensured outcomes that have been equalled by few other countries.
‘We say thank you to these women and men of great vision and energy, who have set and maintained standards which have left their mark on generations of Australians.’
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Dr Nell De Graaf   16/05/2020 3:17:27 PM

Interesting.About 11 years ago I offered our practice nurses a chance to buy into our GP business and become shareholders and take a percentage of profits made.There was a deafening silence....