The 2010 International Nurses Day, celebrated on 12 May, centres on the theme: Delivering quality, serving communities: Nurses leading chronic care.
The theme is a reminder that nurses are fundamentally involved in preventative health and primary health care (PHC) and central to achieving social change surrounding chronic disease. The 2010 International Nurses Day, celebrated on 12 May, centres on the theme: Delivering quality, serving communities: Nurses leading chronic care. The theme is a reminder that nurses are fundamentally involved in preventative health and primary health care (PHC) and central to achieving social change surrounding chronic disease. The IND theme is particularly timely within the Australian context as ‘better management of chronic conditions’ was one of four key priority areas identified in Building a 21st Century Primary Health Care System – A Draft of Australia’s First National Primary Health Care Strategy (the draft strategy) released by the federal government late last year.
The draft strategy is paving the way for Australia’s first comprehensive policy statement on primary health care and could have major implications to the scope of nursing and midwifery throughout the country.
RCNA’s PHC positions
RCNA has recently issued an official response to the draft strategy. The response offers strong support for reform directions that aim to increase the capacity and relevance of the PHC sector, but urges that the final National Primary Health Care Strategy (final strategy) include more comprehensive and specific policy statements stipulating the plan for undertaking an examination of PHC services delivered outside the general practice environment.
RCNA recommends that these policy statements should identify a clear intention to consider alternative financing and governance arrangements to enhance the capacity of nursing and midwifery services within community and PHC in the delivery of holistic preventative health and health promotion programs and activities.
To strengthen and improve Australia’s PHC sector, RCNA identifies the fundamental need for the final strategy to:
• undertake strategic scoping and development of new and expanded roles for nurses and midwives within the PHC sector, including advanced practice and nurse practitioner positions
• undertake a national examination of nursing and midwifery services and infrastructure to identify opportunity for service alignment and service development
• examine options to integrate nursing and midwifery services with other health services through communication, referral and infrastructure supports, as opposed to assuming single site integration, under a comprehensive PHC model to be more efficient and effective
• undertake a national examination of potential funding models to support the delivery of nursing and midwifery outside of the general practice environment
• promote community-based and interdisciplinary clinical educational experiences.
The RCNA response underscores the significance of the improvement of community access to preventative health and PHC as a crucial element to the overall reduction of demand on hospitals.
It advocates that nurses and midwives, with their unique reach and presence within the PHC sector, are essential to this improved access and that they must receive the necessary investments within any future PHC funding models to meet a range of population health needs.
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