Nurse practitioners are key to the future delivery of palliative care

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Nurse practitioners are key to the future delivery of palliative care

Nurse practitioners (NPs) provide holistic, cost effective and quality healthcare. NPs have a critical role to play in the delivery of palliative care now and into the future. 

 “Our recent submission to the A Strategic Plan for the Nurse Practitioner Workforce  consultation, reinforces this critical role in the heath care workforce while making sure the palliative care needs of Australian communities are factored into planning,” says Camilla Rowland, CEO, Palliative Care Australia (PCA).  

 “Palliative care NPs support people with life-limiting illness from paediatrics to older people, providing expert person-centred care, and offer people local choices for the care they receive. When the time comes, NPs can support people to die in a place of their choice with the healthcare they are entitled to. 

 “At this time of health reform, it was very pleasing to hear Minister Butler endorse the role of Nurse Practitioners this week.” 

 Speaking to ABC Radio in Western Australia, Health Minister, Mark Butler said, “[Nurse Practitioners are] highly specialised nurses - they're clinically experienced, they've done additional training in addition of their nursing degree, they've done a master's degree as well. And it's really clear to me that we're just not using them properly, we're not using them to the full extent of their skills and their very substantial training,” the Minister said. 

 “[We want to] make it easier for people to get the care they need when and where they need it and will make sure that we are using the full range of skills that are held by these highly specialised nurses who I think are under-utilised.  

 “[We want to] have them out in the community in the sort of settings where you might see a GP, but it's hard to see a GP, you get in to see a Nurse Practitioner.” 

PCA’s submission on the NP workforce strategic plan supports this vision and offers some advice on how to get there. 

“There are a number of issues around pay, job security and training opportunities that need a collective response from the health sector. NP roles need to be embedded and normalised within health services, they need to be supported to work to their full scope of practice, there needs to be a succession plan for sustainability, and NPs need to be properly funded and better included in the Medicare Benefits Schedule,” Ms Rowland says. 

“NPs working in palliative care also need to be able to prescribe a wider scope of appropriate medications in order to have a more fulsome impact on people’s quality of life. 

 PCA’s May Budget Submission and our feedback on the strategic plan for the nurse practitioner workforce points the way forward and adds value to Minister Butler’s thinking,” Ms Rowland says.  

Friday, 24 February 2023