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Patients Happy To Visit Nurse Practitioners

Most Australians would be happy to visit nurse practitioners for prescription renewals and everyday health concerns such as colds and flus, according to preliminary results from a national study.

The Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI) at The Australian National University and Health Care Consumers’ Association of the ACT (HCCA) are investigating people’s views of the role of nurse practitioners in primary health care services, such as general practice.

From today, nurse practitioners will be able to provide services funded under the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) and prescribe medications that are subsidized by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS).

Extensive consultations with people across Australia have been undertaken and findings have been used to develop a national survey for health consumers.

The preliminary research findings reveal Australians think that:

  • nurses are ‘good listeners’ and they ‘spend more time’ with patients compared with general practitioners (GPs);
  • nurse practitioners will provide them with more choice and better access to primary care in terms of affordability, shorter waiting times and ‘filling the gap’ due to GP shortages;
  • nurse practitioners could cater for everyday health concerns, such as repeat prescriptions and minor illnesses, to free up GPs to manage more complex conditions;
  • a public education campaign about what nurse practitioners can and can’t do would be necessary.

Lead APHCRI researcher, Associate Professor Rhian Parker, said the early research indicates that patients just want access to health care when they need it.

“People told us they know when they need to see a GP and when they could see another health professional,” Professor Parker said. “The national survey we are conducting will give us a more comprehensive understanding of what Australians think about nurse practitioners providing primary health care services.”

HCCA executive director Darlene Cox said patients also want to be listened to and cared for.

“People said having an ongoing relationship with their primary health care provider would lead to good health outcomes,” Ms. Cox said. “There was a perception that nurses listen to patients, which engenders trust and confidence.”

The online survey has gone live today and will remain open for a month.

Source: The Australian National University

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