Funding for 4,600 general practice nurses

Vote for industrial action brings promise of more staff.

Treasurer Wayne Swan announced the Government will invest $390.3 million to fund 4,600 full-time practice nurses in general practice, in a major boost to primary care.

For the first time, GPs in urban areas will be eligible for funding to help employ practice nurses. More practice nurses will help take pressure off GPs by providing clinical support in areas such as wound care and immunisation; managing recall and reminders systems; and patient education in areas such as weight loss, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking.

Annual incentive payments of $25,000 per full-time GP for a Registered Nurse and $12,500 per full-time GP for an Enrolled Nurse will be made available to eligible accredited practices.

By 2013-2014, an estimated 4,537 GP practices will receive more funding – worth $31,500 per year on average – to make better use of highly-skilled practice nurses.

‘This is a great result for practice nurses and will give more opportunities and career options to nurses,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes.

‘The increased investment in primary care should go some way to easing the bur-den on our overstretched public hospitals.’

Support for nurses and allied health professionals in rural areas

The Federal Government will provide $34.1 million for two new rural locum programs to give around 3,000 nurses and 400 allied health professionals time to take leave, achieve appropriate work-life balance and attend continuing professional development over the next four years.

The Government will also invest $6.5 million in providing 400 additional clinical training scholarships over four years for allied health students in rural and regional areas.

Mental health nurses

The Government is committed to supporting and expanding the number of specialist mental health nurses. As part of the Government’s mental health package, $13 million over two years will be provided to employ 136 mental health nurses and provide an estimated 11,700 sessions to people with mental illness.

Good move for primary care

‘When it comes to nurse billing in general practice, it’s very restrictive in terms of the work nurses do that can be billed through to Medicare,’ said Tom Van Dam, RN at an inner-west GP practice. ‘This announcement of funding will open up the recruitment of practice nurses and expand the scope of services the practices can provide, particularly those in rural areas and smaller practices in the cities. It’s a good move for everyone: nurses and doctors work well together in primary care, so this is beneficial for patients, GPs and nurses.’

Where the money will come from

  • $5.5 billion from an increase in tobacco taxes.
  • An increase in Government revenue as the economy grows and unemployment drops (forecast to fall to 4.75% next year and 4% the year after).
  • $12 billion from the Resource Super Profit Tax.