Beyond Covid, to Nurse 2022

By Karen Booth, APNA President

Source: APNA Primary Times Spring 2020 (Volume 20, Issue 2)

A terrible pandemic has brought out the best in Australia’s nurses.

In primary health, we have seen nurses rise to the challenge. They have run infection control in aged care homes; they have swabbed patients in general practice car parks; and they have provided ongoing care for the community.


Through bravery and commitment, our profession has garnered overwhelming goodwill from the Australian public. Now is our time to seize the moment and push for lasting change to the Australian health system.

So much has happened since we launched our Nurse 2022 campaign at the APNA Conference in Adelaide in 2019. Back then, COVID-19 didn’t even exist. The world has now shifted dramatically, but the goals of Nurse 2022 remain: We want primary health care nurses to be Valued, Visible and Respected.

We want a system that enables primary health care nurses to work to their full professional scope of practice. We want funding models that optimise the nurse role for the benefit of patients. And we want the recognition so hard won this year to be matched by respect at all levels - from policymakers to employers.

With that in mind, I urge all members to take the Nurse 2022 pledge

With your support, APNA will continue to argue the case for change. Your voice matters and it is a privilege to represent you.


Your responses to the APNA PulseCheck Surveys enabled us to tell Government about the impact of COVID-19 on primary health care nurses. This feedback helped us to successfully push for nurse access to telehealth, while also highlighting fragilities in employment conditions for nurses and fault lines in the current system for complex care.

Thank you to those who allowed their stories to be told. We are also grateful for the support we received from medical colleges, Rural Workforce Agencies, the Consumers Health Forum, the Australian Association of Practice Management, and the Australasian Institute of Digital Health.

Looking ahead, APNA will continue to lobby for permanent access to telehealth items for nurses. That is a short-term goal. Continuation of telehealth access is part of a bigger picture and is an adjunct to regular chronic complex care and support for aged care.

The main issue is the funding model. It has to change from episodic billing to longer-term bundled payments to support team models of care. The end goal is the creation of high-performing primary care services that meet the quadruple aim of better complex patient care, efficient use of resources and, very importantly, improved patient and clinician satisfaction.


The Federal Government recognises change is required. That is why they have appointed a Primary Health Reform steering group to advise on the development of the Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan.

APNA is represented on this group and it enables us to influence health policy at the highest level.

Another powerful mechanism that members have at their disposal is the annual APNA Workforce Survey. By completing this survey, you help paint a collective picture of the primary health care nursing workforce that is highly sought after by policymakers.

APNA uses this survey data to lobby on your behalf, to inform our media campaigns and to foster a greater understanding of the nature and complexity of primary health care nursing. It is notable that in 2020 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare compiled its first snapshot of primary health care nursing, based largely on APNA data.


Like everyone in Australia, I look forward to a time when COVID-19 is a distant memory. I also anticipate a future where the skills of primary health care nurses are better used to advance the health of the nation; where nurses are no longer bound by small MBS items that don’t reflect their clinical expertise nor their efforts; and where nurse-led health clinics are thriving.

Together, we can make this happen.


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The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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