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Top of mind

Frances Hughes, Queensland Health chief nursing and midwifery officer, believes a new year calls for a new perspective.


“This year, I’d like to see a number of improvements realised for nursing and midwifery within the health sector. I’d like to see greater recognition of the role of the registered nurse, and their scope of practice needs to be better understood to optimise the nursing contribution to the nation’s health.

Queensland, like other states, is faced with a growing and ageing population with increasing burdens from disease and chronic health conditions. Nurses must be allowed and able to work to their full scope of practice to meet the needs of Queenslanders effectively.

Many of our 66,795 nurses in Queensland are nurse leaders, who are integral to driving and supporting national and state health reform. These leaders are challenging traditional barriers to steer new models of care delivery, and advanced practice roles are a vital component in this system.

The introduction of the nurse practitioner role required regulatory changes, and recognition of this frontline role has led to an increase in numbers, resulting in improved service provision. It is now time to enable RNs to work with patients commensurate with their substantive education.

Nurse-led services, delivered in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, will further improve access to areas such as chronic disease management and palliative care.

This year, our health system will work to address issues that affect nurses’ ability to work to their full scope of practice. This will include expanding the delivery of nursing strategies in a range of settings and supporting high-performing health services.

We need to ensure that the nursing workforce within the public healthcare system is able to make a full contribution to how services are delivered, which we know can lead to decreased lengths of stay in hospitals, improved clinical outcomes, reduced inpatient mortality and shorter waiting times for treatment.

All the best for 2014.

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