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Nursing Accord 2010

Summit delegates called on RCNA to provide a platform from which the nursing profession can demonstrate unity and call for collective action.

At the Royal College of Nursing, Australia (RCNA) National Nursing Summit held in Canberra over two days from 27–28 May 2010, nurses from across Australia charged RCNA with the responsibility to provide leadership on a number of critical professional issues.

It is critical that policy makers, in the future development and reform of Australia’s health care system, understand the direct impact nursing care and service delivery has on patient health outcomes. As the ‘agents of connectivity’ within our health care system, nurses have the unique role of providing essential linkages between the system’s many users, health professionals and service arrangements.

Government and policy makers must acknowledge the size of the nursing workforce, the breadth of nursing services provided across acute, aged care and community environments, and the direct impact nursing care has on health outcomes, by affording the profession influential roles in the design, development and implementation of any health service planning.

There is an urgent need for investment to build capacity within the nursing workforce, particularly in relation to:
• leadership
• governance
• mentoring
• the next generation of nurses.

Summit delegates called for the following investments in the nursing profession:

A National Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Strategy
A National Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Strategy that extends beyond workforce numbers is urgently required. A strategy to strengthen the development of a flexible, sustainable nursing and midwifery workforce that is educationally prepared to meet the health care needs of the population must be designed.

Apart from ensuring a sufficient supply of nurses and midwives, the strategy should address the need for the workforce to be well supported into the workplace, mentored and retained if future workforce demands are to be met. The strategy must also examine opportunities to work with and support other levels of health care workers.

Professional development to support corporate and clinical governance roles
Nurses must assume their place in health system governance structures in order to effectively contribute to ensuring optimal patient outcomes. Nursing representation advocates for patient, client and resident outcomes by providing nursing expertise and systems knowledge that is exclusively understood by the nursing profession.

Investment in the professional development of nurses in corporate and clinical governance roles and responsibilities is required to empower nursing representation on governance committees and boards and to ensure knowledge transfer from the nursing profession.

Leadership development programs and forums for nurses
Effective professional leadership is essential to examine and communicate policy developments, disseminate information and form collective positions from the professional nursing perspective. Nursing organisations, including RCNA, are called on to support greater participation of nurses in policy discussions and decision-making forums.

Nursing organisations must work to secure opportunities for nurses to access leadership development programs to develop skills and confidence to contribute to health policy discussions.

Influence on the design and governance of primary health care reforms
Interprofessional collaborations and partnerships are essential in the design and governance of primary health care reforms. Nursing leaders must secure professional representation on relevant primary health care reform forums to influence the design of the future primary health care system and its ongoing operation and development.

To do this, the nursing profession must be appropriately represented in future health care governance structures including Local Health Networks and Primary Health Care Organisations/Medicare Locals (however named).

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