Nurses deserve greater recognition and more seats at the table when governments make decisions on healthcare

Thursday 10 March 2022

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) is supporting calls by the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) for better employment conditions, stronger representation of nurses when governments make disaster response plans, and an expansion of the Medicare Benefits Scheme.

A recent report by the ACN and the Health Professionals Bank has put forward five recommendations to improve the recognition of nurses’ role in dealing with catastrophic events.

The report stated that nurses should be proportionately involved in the decision-making process of governments when it comes to healthcare and that the Medicare Benefits Scheme should be expanded. It also recommended providing additional training when nurses switch specialties to meet a current need, improving employment conditions, and regular clinical supervision.

“Mental health nurses, and nurses more broadly, are at the frontlines of disasters – they’re often the first ones to care for the people affected. Their outstanding response to COVID-19 and recent disasters are testament to that,” ACMHN Interim President Professor John Hurley said.

“Fatigue is growing amongst the workforce – we need greater recognition and better conditions for them now. The ACMHN welcomes and fully supports the recommendations put forward by the report.”

Professor Hurley said that Credentialed Mental Health Nurses (CMHNs) were particularly disadvantaged when it came to access to MBS items, and governments often overlooked their contributions.

“The point about expanding the Medicare Benefits Scheme is particularly pertinent for us. The levels of unmet mental health need in the community were extraordinarily high before the pandemic and the demand for mental health care is even higher now.

“CMHNs are a cost-effective and highly capable workforce being underutilised. Mental health nurses are best positioned to inform government on how to best deploy that workforce so that Australians receive accessible, holistic and high-quality clinical services.

“We recommend the government fully implement the recommendations of the report, for the sake of the wellbeing of nurses and Australians alike.”

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Australian College of Mental Health Nurses press release, mental health nurse leadership, nurse leadership

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