AMA calls for nurse practitioner proposals to be rejected

The AMA is calling on the Government to reject the proposed changes to the role of nurse practitioners announced this week by the MBS Review Nurse Practitioner Reference Group. The changes will fragment care, increase costs, and lead to poorer health outcomes for patients.

AMA President Dr Tony Bartone explained that expanding the ability of nurse practitioners to provide Medicare funded services and removing the current requirement for them to collaborate with doctors in delivering care for patients poses risks to patient safety and the structure of Australia’s world-class primary health system.

“Australia has a very good primary health system, built on a GP-led model that provides comprehensive, continuous, and coordinated patient-centred care,” Dr Bartone said.

“GPs support a team-based approach to care, routinely utilising the skills and knowledge of other health professionals, including nurses and allied health professionals.

“It is widely acknowledged that Australia’s GP-led model of primary healthcare services delivers affordable, high-quality outcomes. Research shows that most benefits occur when doctors and nurses work together collaboratively.

The AMA supports the role of nurse practitioners working with a GP under the model which was introduced in 2010. This model was carefully designed to avoid fragmenting patient care and ensuring patients have access to a doctor. The proposed model encourages nurse practitioners to work without a medical professional, undermining the collaboration that is fundamental to the safety and quality of services.

“When care becomes fragmented in this way, the patient’s usual doctor can be excluded from decisions about a patient care. This increases the risk of misdiagnosis, and missed diagnosis,” Dr Bartone said.

“It increases the risk of adverse outcomes from the interaction of different medications and treatments, and the risk of communication breakdown between the different health professionals involved in the patient’s care.

“This leads to medical intervention being called for at the last minute when things go wrong.”

The Reference Group made the recommendation on the basis that the legislated requirement of collaboration with a medical professional is a ‘system inefficiency’ and a ‘barrier to care’. This is inaccurate – the requirement is a guarantee of patient safety and ensures access to the best, most appropriate care for patients.

“Australia has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, with exemplary outcomes. It does not need a second-rate solution to a problem that does not exist.

“The Australian community wants, and deserves, the best quality medical care regardless of their medical care or economic circumstances, and that care starts with a visit to their GP.”

Read the full media release here.

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