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Issue #1532      25 January 2012

ANF welcomes extra funding

The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) welcomed an announcement last month from the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, that the government is investing $18.7 million to expand the vital role of nurse practitioners working in residential and community based care.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses with the high-level education and the extensive experience needed to see and treat clients in an advanced clinical role, with their scope of practice extending beyond that of a Registered nurse.

NPs can also offer clients’ rebates on services under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and to write prescriptions that qualify for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidies.

Minister Butler said more than 30 projects utilising the skills of NPs across Australia will be funded under the program Nurse Practitioner – Aged Care Models of Practice which aims to improve access to primary health care for elderly Australians.

“NPs are increasingly being called-upon to provide frontline health services across all parts of the community,” ANF federal secretary, Lee Thomas, said.

“We welcome the roll-out of this initiative as it will allow NPs to deliver frontline clinical care in residential and community settings for people who would otherwise have to be admitted to hospital or see a GP. This high level of specialist care will also allow for older people to remain in their homes for longer.”

Whilst welcoming the extra funding for NPs, Ms Thomas said the ANF and its growing membership was still calling on the Gillard government to reform aged care by closing the wages gap experienced by nursing and care staff working in the sector.

Nurses in aged care earn between $168 and $300 on average less than nurses working in public hospitals – at a time Australia urgently needs 20,000 extra aged care nurses.

The ANF, with over 214,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.  

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