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What the Federal Budget means for primary health care
APNA calls out missed opportunity for nurses in Budget
The 2020 Federal Budget was a mixed bag for primary health care nurses, with some good initiatives but no major advances on reform for our sector.
APNA President Karen Booth says the Government has clearly been focused on its response to COVID-19 and is hopeful that next year’s Budget will see more strategic investment that will enable primary health care nurses to play a greater role in improving the health of Australians.
Ms Booth says APNA welcomes spending on nurse skills in aged care and is encouraged by the pilot programs on team-based care involving nurses in rural NSW which she says will add to the body of knowledge already developed through APNA’s nurse-led clinics.
She says APNA will continue to work with Government and other stakeholders on primary health reform so that the nurse role is better utilised. APNA will also be seeking greater recognition and support for Nurse Practitioners plus permanent nurse access to telehealth beyond 31 March 2021.
“With a new Budget due in May, alongside the final report on the aged care sector, APNA will continue to pursue its goal to enable primary health care nurses - the biggest workforce in our sector - to play a much greater role in the health of the country,” Ms Booth says.
Budget snapshot for nurses
- $10.8 million to enhance nursing skills and leadership in aged care. This includes an expanded scholarship program, run by the Australian College of Nursing, plus the introduction of a transition to practice program for nurses new to aged care.
- $3.3 million to test new models of team-based health care for smaller communities involving nurses, GPs and other health providers. This will happen at several sites across western and southern NSW. Outcomes will inform wider primary care reform in rural Australia.
- As previously announced, nurse access to telehealth has been extended until 31 March 2021 while a long-term telehealth plan is created
- Funding for 150 general practice respiratory clinics has also been continued to 31 March 2021
- Medicare-subsidised pathology testing for COVID-19 will continue, including testing at the point-of-care in 86 rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
- $5.7 billion for mental health, including a further 29 headspace services
- $4 billion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over 4 years, including $33 million to expand primary health care services
- $2.3 billion invested in COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, including $24.7 million on needles and syringes
- $1.6 billion to provide 23,000 more home care packages for senior Australians
- $184 million for preventive health, including $21.2 million for a national hearing health campaign