Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan handed down the 2010-11 Federal Budget on Tuesday 11 May.
During the extensive build-up to the release of the budget’s health measures, RCNA lobbied heavily from a professional nursing perspective, extensively promulgating the key recommendations of RCNA’s pre-budget submission RCNA identified funding priorities submitted to the Australian government for inclusion in the 2010-11 Federal Budget and our official response to the Draft National Primary Health Care Strategy.
This included targeted pre-budget letters to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Treasurer Wayne Swan and Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon that clearly stated our expectations of this year’s budget as well as our broader expectations of the health reform agenda.
RCNA called on the Rudd government to exhibit their commitment to the delivery of fundamental reform and to involve nursing and midwifery professionals as key and central players. Further, RCNA recommended that improvement of community and primary health care (PHC), a cornerstone to fundamental reform of Australian health care, would require strategic investment in nursing and midwifery roles, services and service infrastructure outside of the general practice environment.
RCNA stressed that reform that is dependent on general practice models structured around the Medicare Benefits Schedule is inherently limiting. This approach gives no guarantee to the community that their health systems will eventually change to become more responsive, flexible and accessible.
RCNA was pleased that several of our identified funding priorities and long-term lobbying platforms have been acknowledged and, in part, addressed within the budget. RCNA’s call for funding to be made available to establish nurse practitioner services to manage the health care needs of aged care populations was reflected in the budget’s commitment to provide $18.7 million to trial new models of care to expand and improve the role of nurse practitioners in aged care.
Also reflected in the budget was RCNA’s long-term lobbying for investment to expand the role of nurses in community and PHC including, but not limited to, general practice. While RCNA saw the federal government’s $390.3 million investment in support of practice nurses as a positive move overall, we were disappointed that funding towards PHC had not been directed to further nursing beyond the general practice environment.
Additionally, RCNA’s call for funding to be allocated to scope and develop a national practice framework for unlicensed workers (however titled) has been heard in part as the budget committed $3.5 million to develop a national scope of practice for personal care workers and assistants in nursing and to explore their regulation.
With regard to rural health, RCNA asked for funding to be allocated for national rural nursing and midwifery work environments and lifestyle assessments to be undertaken in 2010. While RCNA was pleased to see funding for a rural locum program for nurses which may help address workforce issues particular to rural and remote health care, we were disappointed that a work environments and lifestyle assessment has not been included in funding arrangements. RCNA was also concerned that the locum program is not inclusive of midwives.
RCNA also pushed for specific health research, safety and quality and clinical leadership incentives to support the nursing profession and nursing innovation capacity. Our recommendations included the development of a national research repository and dedicated mentoring support mechanisms for graduates and early career nurses and midwives.
These proposals have currently not been addressed by the federal government but will continue to be supported by RCNA. RCNA’s response to the nursing measures within the 2010-11 budget is now available at www.rcna.org.au.Do you have an idea for a story?
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