Note to new Minister: Listen to nurses and midwives

The country’s largest health union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says new Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt must listen to nurses and midwives if the Government has any chance of addressing the many issues impacting the health and aged care sectors and the delivery of quality care.

The ANMF says Minister Hunt’s first priorities must be:

Restoring the billions of dollars axed from public health budgets around the country;
Stopping the attacks on Medicare and Australia’s successful system of universal healthcare;
Creating efficiencies in the health system rather than outsourcing services to private, for-profit providers;
Creating more job opportunities for local nursing and midwifery graduates.
Acting Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the ANMF and its members were hopeful that Minister Hunt will work with frontline nurses and midwives – unlike the previous Health Minister.

“We welcome Minister Hunt to the crucial health portfolio, but he is on notice: he must enter this crucial portfolio by working with the ANMF, other healthcare stakeholders and economists in finding solutions to the mounting challenges the nation faces in the health sector,” Ms Butler said.

“The new Minister must listen to nurses and midwives when they say the Government must quickly restore the funding required for our public hospitals systems, so they can deliver a high standard of care for their patients.

“As we know, our rapidly-growing population continues to put pressure on the health system, but the ANMF maintains that these growth costs must be shared.

“The best way of ensuring that all Australians have fair and equal access to quality health and aged care is to create efficiencies within the health system – not to simply outsource care services to private, for profit providers, as part of a US-style privatisation.

“As trusted, frontline health professionals, nurses and midwives understand that healthcare has to be evidence based and also cost-effective, in order for them to achieve optimum care delivery. We are extremely concerned that higher out of pocket charges for everyday medical services, like GP visits and pharmaceuticals, will make it harder and harder for Australians to afford basic health checks. There’s little doubt this will result in worsening health outcomes. Mr Hunt, as a former Environment Minister, should encourage the Government to tackle the detrimental health impacts of climate change in Australia.”

The ANMF congratulated Ken Wyatt on his appointment as Aged Care Minister and urged him to establish a long-awaited workforce strategy for the sector – at a time when 20,000 nurses are required to meet the needs of Australia’s ageing population.

ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.

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