What do you think? ANF pushes for broader nursing role - Yahoo!7 News

Nurses should be given the power to provide taxpayer-funded services and prescriptions across Australia, not just in rural areas, a nursing lobby groups says.

It is one of the key messages in the Australian Nursing Federation's (ANF) submission to the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, which handed down its interim report earlier this year.

The commission suggested qualified nurses should have access to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) starting in rural areas where doctors are scarce.

In its submission to the commission, released on Thursday, the ANF said funding allocation and service delivery models should be overhauled to enable nurses to work to their full potential.

"Therefore, the proposal to limit MBS/PBS access to nurse practitioners in rural and remote areas or where doctors are scarce (even initially) is not supported," the ANF said.

"Nurse practitioners already work in a range of settings and their effectiveness is being constrained by this limitation."

The ANF also highlighted the lack of transparency in the aged-care sector.
It said it does not support accommodation bonds for nursing home residents requiring a high level of care, which is an option the commission is considering.

The commission has noted people living in rural and remote areas have significantly worse health outcomes than their metropolitan counterparts.

The National Rural Health Alliance's submission to the commission focuses on inequities in dental health, noting Australia has the second worst adult oral health of all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Dentists are only one third as prevalent in remote areas as in major cities and 40 per cent of dentists working in the country are aged over 50, compared with just under 30 per cent in major cities.

The alliance proposes 25 specific scholarships for rural students studying dentistry and oral hygiene, valued at $10,000 each, over the next three years.

One of the commission's most controversial proposals was increasing the Medicare levy by 0.75 per cent to pay for a universal dental health scheme, called Denticare Australia.

The Association for the Promotion of Oral Health supports the Denticare proposal but stresses it must be phased in gradually and accompanied by a progressive expansion of the public dental framework.

The commission is due to give its final report to the federal government in June.