The country’s biggest health union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has raised concerns about reported changes to a new pharmacy agreement which could see pharmacists receive $19 billion in Government funding to provide wound care and other primary care activities.
ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said today: “The ANMF has been trying to negotiate with governments on the need for expanded roles for health practitioners for years. This is because we know that health care for Australians is at its best when our highly qualified and skilled health practitioners are able to work to their full scope of practice in a coordinated and consultative way.
“However, one group of health professionals should not have to undergo additional training and education to take on roles which currently fall within the expertise of another group of health professionals. While we agree that pharmacists are currently under-utilised, it is ludicrous to expect pharmacists to undertake the education necessary to be competent in wound care while there are thousands of nurses, who are already expert in this area, available.
“We must remember that wound care does not simply involve putting a Band-Aid over a cut but can be, for example in the case of a diabetic ulcer, chronic, complex and very difficult to treat requiring significant clinical expertise.
“Nurses come prepared with this expertise; wound care and management is an integrated component of all nursing degrees. And many nurses, most particularly nurse practitioners, undertake post graduate education to become highly specialised wound management experts.
“It is simply unreasonable to expect pharmacists to have this level of skill and expertise.
“A better solution would be to direct a portion of funding towards nurse-led clinics, which would work closely and in collaboration with pharmacists to improve care and management of chronic conditions for the community.
“It is an inefficient use of resources to expect pharmacists to take on completely new roles, while we continue to have hundreds of nursing graduates, who are already competent in wound care, unable to find jobs.
“Pharmacists should have a greater role in the provision of health care in the community but we need to capitalise on their existing skills and knowledge. This is what we need to do for all health professionals and have them working in better, more coordinated and consultative ways.
“The ANMF is urging the health Minister Sussan Ley to consult with nurses and other health professionals about the changes needed across the health system which will lead to the best care for all Australians.”