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Contribution of nurses to be better recognised

New program provides opportunities for practice nurses and general practice.

The Practice Nurse Incentive Program, which starts on January 1 of next year, will bring great opportunities to nurses, GPs and consumers, according to participants of a workshop convened in Melbourne late last week.

The two day meeting, hosted by APNA, sought advice from practice nurses, GPs, practice managers and policy makers, on the impact and opportunities presented by the Practice Nurse Incentive Program (PNIP).

Practice manager, Robyn Moore, said she had done the modelling for her Central Coast practice in NSW and was confident it would be better off under the changes.

“It is a good time for practices to review their business model and make some changes. We already know that nurses working in general practice do far more than what they are funded for under Medicare items and this new program provides the opportunity for nurses to work to their full scope of practice and generate more business for the practice.”

APNA vice president Karen Booth, who is both a practice nurse and manager of a busy general practice in Sydney, said the changes to funding to support nursing positions in general practice under the PNIP better recognised the contribution of nurses than the current funding.

“The PNIP funding model is not tied to a particular area of clinical work but allows general practice to employ nurses to work collaboratively within a multidisciplinary team in response to the needs of local communities.”

The PNIP includes incentives for eligible general practices to employ nurses to assist in the delivery of essential primary health care services in the community. Grandparenting arrangements will be in place for the first three years of the program to ensure practices are not financially disadvantaged.

APNA professional services manager Steve Webster said a number of resources were being developed and would be available from early September 2011 to assist nurses, GPs and practice managers through the transition to the new PNIP.

“Our meeting in Melbourne this week has helped to clarify the key areas of concern and inform the development of a range of resources to assist nurses in general practice as well as GPs and practice managers, in this transitional period. There are numerous examples of the great benefits nurses bring to general practice that can be enhanced and expanded under this new program and we want to make sure this is understood and acknowledged.”

Resources including DVDs, publications, business models, online education and training, webinars and fact sheets will be available in coming months through APNA (www.apna.asn.au) and AGPN (www.agpn.com.au).

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