APNA informs Inquiry into chronic disease management and prevention in primary health care

On Thursday 1 October I appeared at the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health’s Inquiry into Chronic Disease Prevention and Management in Primary Health Care, representing the primary health care nursing profession.

As the peak body for primary health care nurses, it was a pleasure to work with a group of our colleague nursing organisations (CATSINaM, ACMHN, MCaFHNA and ACN).

General practitioners continue to advocate their role as gatekeepers for real reform. It is time to challenge the role all healthcare professionals provide as part of a multidisciplinary team.

At APNA, our vision is to support the views of our membership to contribute to a healthier Australia and healthier communities.

Nurses at the frontline are well qualified to take an active role in primary health care as we are active in all areas of the community, the cities, the country and our islands, and we continue to develop long term relationships with the people in our care.

In my address to the Inquiry I highlighted the need to support:
–  recruitment and retention of primary health care nurses in the workforce
–  nurses transitioning into primary health care nursing
–  the nurse clinic model as a successful method of dealing with chronic and complex diseases and the coordination of care.

As your president and also an independent representative of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group, I felt well qualified and well positioned to speak on behalf of nurses in our sector and our members.

APNA is commencing work to deliver significant projects including:

>  Transition to Practice Program – which will directly support the recruitment and retention of nurses in all areas of primary health care

>  Nurse Demonstration Projects – established in multiple regions directly informed by health population needs

>  Education and Career Framework – to support the career trajectory available to primary health care nurses

>  Chronic Disease and Healthy Ageing Workshops – innovative face to face professional development for nurses in primary health care.

These important long term projects will be run in collaboration with the Department of Health to directly benefit recruitment and retention of nurses in primary health care and to support the Government’s initiative of population health driven chronic disease management and healthy ageing.

Our APNA projects promote a broader model of healthcare, providing the right care at the right time, keeping people out of hospital and caring for them on their return to their homes and communities.

The current environmental and political focus is well and truly focused on health reform. This is a time of change, challenge, and considered action and responsiveness from your peak body. APNA will be flexible and dynamic and continue to drive the agenda on your behalf. It is vital your voice is heard so we can best represent your position. Please continue to communicate your views with us at policy@apna.asn.au.

Our role has been recognised as the peak body for nurses in primary health care nurses and we are confident the Federal Government is listening and will make changes based on our submissions and direct feedback.

Kind regards,

Karen Booth

Read our full submission here.

Read the transcript of the Parliamentary Inquiry hearing here.

MBS Review: Benefiting you

Of the more than 5500 Medicare items, 70% of them have remained unchanged and unassessed since they were introduced.

The purpose of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review is to align the list of services funded by the Australian government with contemporary clinical practice. The Review will focus on whether patients are being offered the right service at the right time for the right reason, and whether it will provide them with a health benefit. And yes, it is aimed at enabling Medicare and our health system to sustain itself in the future, for a future population.

A broad consultation of clinicians, consumers and stakeholders has been promised, and individuals can have a say through the online consultation hub.

At APNA we believe this is a priority for the primary health care sector, our members and the Australian public. Primary health care nurses are in the perfect position to ensure we are supporting the delivery of modern, patient-focused care.

As your President, I encourage you to stay active and engaged in the ongoing review of the MBS.

The increase in public health spending is in proportion the rising costs of chronic disease and an ageing population – two areas APNA is heavily focused on – and this will continue to swell if we fail to review regularly to test the response against the demand of the Australian population health needs.

Investing in primary health care and prevention is the smart fiscal move, to keep people well and out of hospital.

Hear the reasoning behind the Review from Chair Professor Bruce Robinson.

And Health Minister Sussan Ley writes It’s time to fix our healthcare system for doctors and patients.

6 July 2015

Dear members, friends and colleagues,

APNA has achieved a significant win on behalf of our members, showing great recognition for the work you do for communities around Australia. APNA has been granted a contract to deliver the Nursing in Primary Health Care Program to 2018.

In making the announcement on Friday, the Government has focused on the outcomes of this program on people living in rural and remote areas, through the support of nurses in their communities.

The program will centre on enhanced nurse knowledge, skills and capabilities in chronic disease prevention and management, and in supporting healthy ageing in the community. The aim is to increase the contribution primary health care nurses can make to care for the chronically ill and elderly, delivering better and more cost-effective patient care, and reducing the burden on hospitals and the aged care system.

It will also be achieved through workforce sustainability. The program will focus on workforce recruitment and retention, to ensure Australia has an adequate supply of primary health care nurses to meet demand, and that general practice and other employers are supported to employ nurses and optimise their use. Our workforce sustainability program will be enhanced by the development of a transition to practice pilot to encourage new graduates to primary health care. Patients will benefit from good access to cost-effective care, and support for coordination delivered, as the Minister describes, by “having nurses in the right place at the right time”.

Effective primary health care can help keep people well and out of hospital and aged care. The challenge we face right now is to ensure our primary health care system can meet the challenges of ever-increasing demand, whilst maintaining affordability and quality.

Thrilled as we are, heads are already down and planning is underway. We look forward to sharing this journey with you.

Kind regards,


25 May 2015

Dear members,

Each year APNA selects a conference theme that is meant to inspire. This year has been no exception. The Hon Ms Sussan Ley, Minister for Health and Ageing, opened APNA’s Brave to Bold conference held on the Gold Coast last week to share in the excitement and celebration of primary health care nursing. Brave to Bold brought together wonderful, enthusiastic nurses from all over the country, to meet, learn, teach, share, network, and inspire creative and innovative nursing practice. I can also tell that more than a few of you had a little fun too. The APNA members of the Conference Advisory Committee and the staff team are all to be congratulated on what I feel was our best conference ever. Our highly regarded and much loved Commonwealth Chief Nurse, Dr Rosemary Bryant, shared with us her brave to bold story, in what will probably be one of her last big appearances before she retires in a few months.

We had a sensational line-up of truly inspiring national and international speakers who really are brave and bold, encouraging nurses to lead the way in many areas of primary health care and career development. Thank you to our international guests Dr Sheila Tlou, Dr Mary Moller, Professor Sue Cross, Deb Davies and Brian Dolan, and to our very own Professor Megan-Jane Johnstone, who gave some of the most enlightening, inspiring and invigorating presentations that I have the pleasure of attending. For those of you unable to attend the conference I urge you to look at the bios on our conference web page and view their great nursing work. We were spoilt for choice for the abstract papers and workshops presented at Brave to Bold. Thank you to all our wonderful presenters.

Thank you to the APNA staff who pulled this together, helped members navigate the conference and whose tireless effort helped to make the Brave to Bold conference special and to keep some of us sane. A big welcome to Alexis Hunt in her new role as CEO and her first APNA conference. Most of all thank you to our members who also made this special – you are the reason for APNA moving from brave to bold!

Next year’s APNA conference will be in… envelope please… Melbourne! See you there.


27 April 2015

Hi everyone,

Our thoughts are with all of our members, subscribers and their communities affected by the savage weather events of the past few weeks. The APNA team wish you a warm and safe recovery and speedy repairs.

There has been no time for dust to settle at APNA as we are dishing out the sequins and the saris ready for the Brave to Bold conference and the Boldlywood Gala Dinner. All of our international guest speakers and sessions are aligned and ready for a bold and sensational conference and networking event. You will also find in this edition the latest news on the Federal Government’s $26m immunisation funding plan to improve vaccination rates.

The highlight for this issue is to announce that today is the first official day of work for our new CEO, Ms Alexis Hunt. The APNA Board and team warmly welcome Alexis aboard and I know she is very keen to get to know our members as soon as possible. The Board would also like to give a very big thank you to Matt Hall, our long time General Manager of Member Services, who has performed a wonderful job as our caretaker CEO and has been working hard to ensure a smooth transition of the role.

Finally… don’t forget to vote in the APNA election! If you haven’t voted already, follow this link or from the APNA home page and have your say in setting the direction for our organisation.

Keep warm and practice your dancing, Boldywood style.



Education and Career Framework

I hope you all had a relaxing Easter holiday break. Roll on the Queen’s birthday!

We are rapidly moving ahead with our work on the development of the Education and Career Framework for general practice nurses. Since my last post we have been very busy engaging with many of our members (as well as non-members) in a series of focus groups run across the country. We have also published our second Consultation Paper – see APNA Consultation Paper #2 – which has a series of 17 questions under four main subject headings. We have now extended the deadline for feedback on this paper (and the questions contained in the paper) to 30 April 2015 (it was previously 18 April).

I would encourage everyone to have a good look at this paper and consider what else we need to be considering in the development of the Education and Career Framework. This framework has been a while in the making and we need to make sure we finish up with a structure that is clear, logical and relevant for today’s nurses.

For those of you heading to APNA’s national conference in the Gold Coast in May, there will also be an opportunity to discuss the Education and Career Framework at the pre conference workshop to be held on Thursday 14 May 2015 (see pre Conference workshops).

I look forward to your feedback.


30 March 2015

Dear members,

I’m not going to chat too much today. I’m going to cut straight to the chase because I want to know what you know and think. The expansion and diversification of primary health care and the growing demands for frontline preventive care is changing the face of many services including general practice. I want you to tell me how you feel the modern 21st century general practice looks and works. How would you describe or define contemporary general practice? What does the model look like? What makes a cutting edge general practice? Members, add their thoughts here.

APNA has secured a meeting with the Health Minister, the Hon Sussan Ley. We will be able to showcase the wonderful activities of APNA and the valuable contribution that primary health care nurses make to the health of this nation. We’ll keep you posted.

Also there have been a number of important notices coming to APNA via the General Practice Roundtable and the National Immunisation Committee. There have been updates to the online version of the Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition including information about pertussis vaccination in pregnancy and a booster for children aged 18 months. Many areas are seeing a big upswing in whooping cough activity in 2015. Read more here.

There have also been a number of updates regarding the 2015 influenza season. For the latest news, have a look here.

There have also been changes to immunisation reporting to help immunisation providers identify under-immunised children in their practices. The fact sheet can also be accessed via the Immunise Australia website.



16 March 2015

Dear members,

APNA is currently accepting nominations from members for positions on the Board. That means, if there are more nominees than positions available, we go to an election!

People often ask what it’s like to sit on the APNA Board. Governance requires a different perspective from service management. Governance is often described as taking a helicopter view looking down over the organisation to see that all is running to plan: to the Strategic Plan formulated by the Board, and to the operational plan and various activity plans reported to the Board by the CEO. Whilst in that helicopter, the Board is looking at the political landscape and monitoring and fending off risks to the Association from various vantage points, as well as looking for opportunities to grow and promote our organisation. We have some very good runs on the board here. The responsibilities of the Board have become increasingly sophisticated over time, and this reflects the maturity of the organisation. A Board member chairs each of the internal committees as well as general board duties. The Chairs report the work of the committee directly to the Board and this facilitates the ‘big picture’ approach to organisational management.

There is also the opportunity to contribute to external committees and working groups in areas of your expertise. Whilst this is predominantly in a voluntary capacity, being able to contribute to policy development and advance the professional status of primary health care nursing is incredibly rewarding.

Last week saw our much admired CEO Kathy Bell step down from her role at APNA. Matt Hall, APNA General Manager, is steering the ship as the interim CEO whilst the final process of appointing a new CEO is completed. The new CEO will arrive to a solid platform of a well-skilled team, and the Board will provide the additional support needed during the transition period. As APNA President and Vice President, myself and Julianne Badenoch will be available to support a smooth transition for the new CEO and we both intend to renominate to the Board in this current round of APNA Board nominations. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the conference and look forward to your ongoing support.

Kind regards,


16 February 2015

Dear members,

February is seeing a lot of action for APNA and its members. There are workshops rolling out as well as face to face forums (around 20 nationally) to canvass the views of nurses and other stakeholders on the Education and Career Framework for Nurses in General Practice, so keep an eye out for a focus group being held near you.

The nomination and election for positions on the APNA Board is getting near. Information will be available soon on the role of Board Members and how to nominate for election to the APNA Board. Don’t forget to book your place at Brave to Bold, our national conference in May, and Best Practice Awards have opened today – nominate yourself or a well-deserving colleague!

APNA is also receiving requests for suitably experienced nurses to contribute to research projects linked with universities and other eminent research bodies at advisory committee level. This is a great recognition of the valuable contribution that nurses make to primary health care and a wonderful opportunity for nurses to contribute to the evidence base for primary health care. Over the next few months we will be putting out calls for expressions of interest for nurses with expertise in in certain areas of primary health care nursing to contribute to research projects as they arise.



2 February 2015

Dear members,

Well we can’t say this has been a dull few weeks. We are all watching the political space with great interest. APNA has written to the Hon. Sussan Ley congratulating her on her appointment as Health Minister. We have also offered to meet with her to explain and highlight the important role that nurses play in primary health care. Keep your policy thoughts and comments coming to the APNA online forum, APNAnurses Connect.

BUT there have been other exciting things happening. Registration for APNA’s Brave to Bold conference on the Gold Coast has now opened. So start booking your time away from work, and get practicing on your Bollywood dance techniques! The preliminary program has been released with a lineup of inspiring national and international speakers.

Even though it seems like only yesterday the last edition of the Australian Immunisation Handbook (10th Edition) arrived on our desks, it is about to undergo its next review. The National Immunisation Committee is interested to have APNA’s input, and I need your thoughts quickly on the following questions:

  • The way the Handbook is used – how often, where, when and why?
  • Strength and weaknesses of the 10th edition compared to previous editions in terms of content, usability and format
  • The layout and size of the Handbook
  • The usefulness and usability of the content of the Handbook
  • Possible future formats of the Handbook, including:
    • Smart phone applications; and
    • The production of the hardcopy Handbook in two separate volumes (a smaller recommendation list and larger reference book).

In other news, Kidney Health Australia is looking for a nurse to join the KCAT (Kidney Check Australia Taskforce) nurse education advisory group. I know there are quite a few members participating in the CKD and CHD Collaborative program and you may be keen to contribute at an education level. If you are interested please send a small bio and contact details to admin@apna.asn.au and I will give you a call to chat in more detail about this very worthy cause.

The Education and Career Framework is pressing onwards and upwards and we are collecting valuable thoughts and comments from our members. You can join the forum discussion here. Keep ‘em coming.

Finally, congratulations and welcome to all those nurses new to primary health care and general practice in 2015. The Northern Sydney Medicare Local and Sydney University transition to practice pilot kicked off this week. This is the first of a number pilots that will appear in 2015 to encourage nurses to work in general practice. APNA’s Foundations of General Practice Nursing orientation workshops are rolling out around the country starting with Melbourne next Thursday – find out all of the dates here.