Managing health reform – April 2009

Nurses and midwives must actively participate in the health reform debate to identify and seize opportunities as they arise.

These are challenging times for nurses and midwives. At the Federal level, we are digesting the recently-released interim report of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) (see page 26) and at the state level we are navigating our way through the implications of the Garling Report’s recommendations.

It is a time when nurses and midwives need to focus on where our professions are going. It is our responsibility to ensure our professions continue to grow, evolve and adapt to new standards of health care delivery in a way that secures the future of the next generation of nurses and midwives.

Right now, politically, economically and socially, we are at a crossroad: I can see many opportunities for nurses and midwives but I can also see a number of threats. A key challenge for the NSWNA is how best to synthesise the industrial and professional objectives of nursing and midwifery in an uncertain future.

Nurses and midwives are well placed to benefit from change
The NHHRC interim report continues a vigorous national debate about which tier of government should run our health system, about funding and workforce arrangements in the health sector. It is a debate that has intensified in the past few years.

In fact, it has been gathering pace for the past three decades as we have seen exponential growth in the capacity and demand for health care in the developed world. Health’s continued evolution demands a high level of adaptation from the nursing and midwifery professions to enable them to keep pace with developments.

We should not fear this debate nor this evolution. We should be confident that the efficiency and effectiveness of the work done by the nursing and midwifery professions will be recognised in any rigorous analysis of the health landscape.

We need to understand that change is essential, both in health care and in the professions of nursing and midwifery, and if we manage it properly it will be beneficial.

Bringing the public with us
In the midst of this dynamic debate on health, the NSWNA is about to embark on its next TV advertising campaign (see page 18) to promote the professionalism of nursing and midwifery.

It will be a positive campaign that will showcase the value and benefits of professional nurses and midwives. It will also position the NSWNA as a guardian of modern nursing and midwifery. Nurses and midwives will be shown as real people doing a vital job in a caring and professional way.

We have decided to run such a campaign after extensive consultation and discussion with nurse leaders and our members. We found a common thread in these discussions: concern about constant change and the challenge to manage it in the best interests of nurses and midwives.

Our campaign aims to enhance the professional profile of nurses and midwives and will build on our past campaigns in defence of nurses’ political and industrial interests.

We will build awareness among the public about the high level of education, skill and professionalism required of the modern nurse and seek their support to preserve the integrity of nurses’ and midwives’ roles in our ever-evolving health system.