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Union petition to force re-entry fees debate

The NSW Nurses’ Association is petitioning the NSW Parliament to help fund the cost of the $10,000 re-entry program for nurses seeking to return to the workforce. The union is hoping to obtain at least 10,000 signatures so it can force a parliamentary debate on the cost of the course. The circulating petition requests the immediate release of funding to increase the number of nurses able to complete the course. It also calls for on the government to support the development of additional courses accredited by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council for delivery by local health districts. The College of Nursing in Sydney is currently the only approved provider of the course in NSW. However, an option to deliver the program online is pending accreditation by the Nursing and Midwifery Board. Health Minister Jillian Skinner told Nursing Review she had encouraged universities across NSW to consider providing the course locally to support more rural nurses to undertake the course. “While we can encourage this process, the final decision rests with individual universities,” she said. The cost of the eight-week program and the location of training have been cited as barriers to re-entry, especially for nurses in rural and remote NSW.


Union calls on O’Farrell to reject removal of ratios

The NSW Nurses’ Association has urged the O’Farrell Government to reject a recommendation to remove mandated minimum staffing levels from public sector workplace awards. The recommendation, contained in the recently released Commission of Audit report would threaten to roll back nursing staff levels, the union said. NSWNA general secretary Brett Holmes said the report contained a number of recommendations of serious concern to nurses and midwives. “One recommendation needs to be knocked on the head straight away and that is the recommendation to remove ‘workforce management policies (such as staff ratios)’ from ‘industrial instruments’ such as the nurses and midwives award.” NSW nurses and midwives ran a successful campaign in 2010 and 2011 to introduce mandated minimum staffing levels in the current award. “The idea that safe patient care can be left to hospital managers alone is ridiculous. We tried that approach for many years and the only driver for most managers was budget needs, not patient needs.” The NSWNA would make a full response to the report later this month.


Roadmap shows path to end Indigenous eye disease

Researchers from the University of Melbourne say $70 million could ‘close the gap’ on indigenous eye health. Indigenous Australians are six times more likely to suffer from blindness and 94 per cent of vision loss is unnecessary, preventable or treatable. Drawing on five years of research and consultation, University of Melbourne academics Professor Hugh Taylor, Professor Andrea Boudville and Mitchell Anjou of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit, have released a comprehensive framework to “close the gap”. Taylor said there was no reason why indigenous Australians had to go blind. “We now have the plan and if we have the will and government support we can solve this critical health issue. Unlike many other [health] conditions, we have the solutions for key eye-care problems and vision loss can be eliminated overnight.”Taylor called for $70 million over five years to implement the roadmap. “With a doubling of funding, we estimate, that demand for eye treatments such as cataract surgery will increase by seven times, diabetic examinations by five times and use of eye glasses by 2.5 times,” he said.
Flying doctors sink teeth into oral health

NSW outback towns will benefit from a new oral health program run by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. In its first year the program will conduct more than 120 dental checks in Bourke, Collarenebri, Goodooga and Lightning Ridge. TOOTH (The Outback Oral Treatment and Health) program was launched by NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, with three-year funding from Investec Bank, the Gonski Foundation and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The Flying Doctors said the service would be run out of its upgraded Dubbo base, and would replicate a successful dental program operating from its Broken Hill base since 1999.


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