Government committed to strengthening nursing.
Subject: Medical care (New Zealand)
Medical care (Government finance)
Medical care (Reports)
Nursing (Government finance)
Nursing (Reports)
Pub Date: 10/01/2009
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Oct, 2009 Source Volume: 15 Source Issue: 9
Topic: Event Code: 900 Government expenditures Canadian Subject Form: Medical care (Private); Medical care (Private); Medical care (Private)
Product: Product Code: 8000001 Medical & Health Services; 9105210 Health Care Services NAICS Code: 62 Health Care and Social Assistance; 92312 Administration of Public Health Programs
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Name: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 210919902

Health Minister Tony Ryall warned conference delegates that money for health would be tight next year. "Because of the economic crisis, the Government is now in deficit. New spending has shrunk to $1.5 billion, and we've had to borrow that," he said.

Health was a government priority and received half of the $1.5 billion in this year's budget. "In other words, health got a $750 million increase, while the other 30 or so ministries and departments shared the other $750 million. Next year the new spending allocation for the entire government will be around $1.1 billion. Maintaining a $750 million dollar share for health will be unlikely unless there is a significant turn-around in our country's finances. Next year money in health will be even fighter," the Minister said.

The government was committed to a strong and enduring public health service but the health service, in turn, would need to ensure a strong and ongoing focus on value for money, with resources moving from administrative overhead and low priority spending into more important frontline services.

Congratulating NZNO on its centenary, the Minister said there were few New Zealanders whose lives had not been touched by the care and reassurance nurses provided, every hour of the day, every day of the year. "Our hospitals and clinics also depend on your managerial skills, your innovation and your leadership. Nurses are the backbone of the public health service--and a significant part of its future," he said.

The Minister said nurses told him the best part of the job was the time they spent with patients. "The average hospital nurse spends less than a third of his or her time working directly with patients. The rest is spent running up and down the corridor and massaging keyboards. Little wonder so many people are leaving the profession when they aren't able to do what they were educated to do ... and that's care for people.

"I was at Tauranga Public hospital recently and saw first hand what nurses are doing to improve patient care by improving the time they spend with patients. One ward team had increased their patient-contact time from 32 percent to 57 percent. Needless to say the nurses seemed happier and so did the patients. And that is clinical leadership."

The Minister outlined the government's "actions for nursing." These included nurses electing two Nursing Council members--"it is important you have more say in the regulation of your own profession and in the decisions affecting scopes of practice, competence and safety"; the voluntary bonding scheme, which has seen 682 nursing graduates in theatre, intensive care, and cardiothoracic nursing confirmed on the scheme this year; and work on a new scope of practice and education programme for enrolled nurses, which the Minister said he was keen to see finalised as soon as possible.

Part of the new Clinical Training Agency Board's work would involve opportunities for new models of practice, building on the success of the nurse practitioner role, and other specialist nursing functions. "For example, we can move services currently provided in acute care to primary care, where they can be more appropriately delivered. There should be a wider development of the role of nurses as case managers and brokers of health information. That would fit in with potential Integrated Family Health Centres, which the Government would like to see providing a full range of multi-disciplinary services in the community," he said.

"And we will continue to consider more nurses prescribing a wider range of medicines, according to their competence, patient need and the requirements of services." The Ministry of Health had issued an Expression of Interest for proposals from eligible health care providers capable of large scale change to make these services a more frequent part of New Zealanders' primary care.

"We are very keen to see nurses in the community working with their health professional colleagues to put together these proposals," he told delegates.

Nursing had proved its ability to develop and change with the times and maintain its high standards and core values. "There are around 45,000 nurses currently practising in this country--you are a massive resource which the government is committed to safeguarding and strengthening."

Conference coverage by co-editors Teresa O'Connor and Anne Manchester
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