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Source: APNA Primary Times Summer 2021 (Volume 21, Issue 2)
Despite prolonged periods of lockdown for many of us, the essential work of nurses continues unabated to support the health and wellbeing of Australians.
The enormous efforts of primary health care nurses across sectors, including state-run vaccine hubs, private general practices, contractors in outreach services and Aboriginal Health Services, are helping to push the COVID-19 vaccination rates to levels that will better protect us against severe COVID-19 illness and allow our communities some freedom of movement.
Nurses are also the gatekeepers of infection prevention and control. This has been a particularly challenging time for the aged-care and disability sectors, which are coping with high workloads, limited resources and the difficulty of having to separate residents from their loved ones for extended periods. We congratulate and thank all nurses for their amazing efforts in teaching and supporting their teams, their workplaces and their communities in safe practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We know that COVID-19 will be with us for some time. As the country opens up, there will likely be more low-to-moderate levels of COVID-19 illness that will be managed by primary care. APNA has been in discussions with the Department of Health and will continue to monitor the situation closely and report updated information to members via the weekly APNA Connect newsletters. As part of our work for the national emergency, APNA CEO Ken Griffin and I represent APNA on the governance and leadership groups for the COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce. The Guidelines Leadership Group continues our regular meetings, with research papers circulated, evidence examined and guidelines for clinical care and care pathways updated as new evidence emerges. See the Taskforce’s website for more details.
The COVID-19 Primary Care Implementation Group continues to meet weekly. APNA nurse educator Suzanne Blackeby and I both attend, representing APNA. We relay the information obtained through the APNA ‘PulseCheck’ Surveys to the Department of Health and ensure that key messages are relayed back to our members. New information is posted on APNA’s COVID-19 information webpage and shared via the APNA Connect.
The APNA Nurse Support Line continues to be a valued member benefit. There have been several concerning issues regarding the COVID-19 vaccine rollout that the APNA executive has escalated to senior bureaucrats at the Department of Health to ensure the quality and safety of the program.
There have also been some additional developments on the nursing workforce front involving strategies to support the primary health care nursing workforce and the nurse practitioner workforce. APNA is part of a steering committee that is working on a framework for guiding rural and remote nursing services; and we are currently preparing a response to the federal government’s response to Professor Steven Schwartz’s independent review, ‘Educating the Nurse of the Future’. These developments are described in the ‘Policy Update’ article of this edition.
The end of 2021 will be here soon! Primary health care is the cornerstone of all strong health systems around the world, and you have all put in an amazing effort keeping our communities safe and well, providing care that keeps people on track. Hopefully most of you will get a well-earned break and enjoy some time with family and friends to refresh and renew for 2022. On behalf of the APNA team and the APNA Board, we want to say a big thank you to our members for your support and contributions to our advocacy efforts. We wish you a happy holiday and festive season and look forward to seeing you in 2022. Keep an eye out for an APNA Roadshow event coming to a place near you in the new year.
To the APNA team, congratulations on an enormous effort in 2021. Despite being in lockdown in Melbourne for most of the year, the APNA team has been kicking incredible goals to grow the association and support our members. A big thank you from the APNA Board and the members to the APNA team for your superhuman efforts. We also say a very big thank you to APNA CEO Ken Griffin for his strong leadership in difficult times. Last, but not least, a big thank to the APNA Board for steering APNA and setting the direction that has seen our membership grow and the organisation flourish.
Best wishes and regards to all,