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International Nurses Day a healthy reminder

The tireless hard work and contributions of nurses to health systems and communities across the globe are being highlighted today as the world observes International Nurses Day.

The annual event takes place on the birthday anniversary of pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale. It is the initiative of the Geneva-based International Council of Nurses (ICN), a federation of 130 national nurse associations representing millions worldwide.

Speaking of the event’s theme for 2015, Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective, ICN chief executive David Benton urged nurses and policymakers to “focus on the nursing role as a key priority and determinant for achieving equity, delivering universal health coverage and ultimately improving health outcomes globally”.

“Nurses are well positioned to drive improvements in efficiency and effectiveness,” Benton said.

ANMF federal secretary Lee Thomas said with the federal Budget due to be handed down tonight, International Nurses Day was a timely reminder to the government of the importance of properly funding healthcare, as nurses work to prevent illness in the community whilst caring for the sick and needy.

“The federal government has a unique opportunity in the 2015–16 Budget to ensure continued sustainability of our health system fairly through increasing efficiencies and eliminating waste,” Thomas said.

Thomas said such decisions must be made in close consultation with nurses and other healthcare professionals, “in ways which ensure that healthcare is both evidence based and cost-effective, guaranteeing the capacity of nurses to continue their high standard of care delivery”.

“The federal government must commit to maintaining and strengthening our nation’s successful system of universal healthcare and not continue to erode it by persistent attacks on Medicare or the privatisation of our health system,” she said.

Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) president Karen Booth – whose association is set to hold its annual conference later this week – said it was important to acknowledge and celebrate the enormous contribution made by primary healthcare nurses across the country.

“As we face significant changes to primary healthcare policy, APNA is focused on developing enhanced knowledge, skills and capabilities in chronic disease prevention and management and new standards for nursing in general practice,” Booth said. “To address Australia’s future healthcare needs, we need more primary healthcare nurses, and our key theme at this week’s APNA National Conference, Brave to Bold, recognises a number of initiatives to support improved workforce recruitment and retention of highly skilled and capable nurses."

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