COVID 19 Vaccine NP Update
COVID 19 VACCINE NP UPDATE
As you are aware, ACNP, along with all of the other peak nursing organisations have been repeatedly asking for, and providing evidence to support, the inclusion of Privately Practicing Nurse Practitioners (PPNP) in the rollout of the COVID 19 vaccine.
We have repeatedly requested for PPNPs to be able to provide services via the independent funding and supply mechanisms that are supporting pharmacy rollout. We know many of you are already registered under the NIP, and already meeting the same standards!
What has been happening?
Last week I was invited to an informal discussion with Dr Lucas De Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response Team; and he was joined by Frances Rice, Acting Chief Nurse; Louise Riley Assistant Secretary, MBS Reviews Unit; and Carita Davis, Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response team. I have been waiting on a message I can share with you all since then.
This week, I have also had conversations with key stakeholders and the media, about the low immunisation rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. This is a key example of how the current rollout is adding to disadvantage. It is important to note, there is disadvantage and poor access to health care in rural, remote and metropolitan areas. Nurse Practitioners are needed in all areas. It is distressing to see what is happening around Australia, and not be able to help.
Last night, we received a letter from Dr. Lucas De Toca in response to our letter to Adjunct Professor Alison McMillan on 2nd July; and to summarise the response:
Nurse Practitioners add value to the health system in all areas of Australia, and within this COVID Vaccine rollout, there is no recognition of Nurse Practitioners as primary care providers. We are concerned that a bespoke or ‘patch-in’ approach is going to see further delays and increase workload for administrators.
Naturally, we will be responding to this letter, and the peak nursing organisations have jointly written to the Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt last night re-iterating our proposed solutions. We are also already in touch with NACCHO.
I want to be clear that at no time has anyone involved in the Government response raised any concerns about the suitability of nurse practitioners or the safety or quality of their practice to explain this. No justification has been provided for our exclusion. This leaves me to wonder why they continue to impede our involvement. This is not about MBS for us (which is not supposed to be used for mass vaccination anyway), it is just about allowing NPs to reach people who really need this vaccine, and funding them to do so, in a reasonable and fair manner.
I want to assure you that ACNP is raising this in every forum, several times a week. We continue to attend the (Commonwealth) Department of Health - Primary Health Care COVID-19 Response Teleconference weekly, the Rural and Remote COVID-19 Vaccine Stakeholder Roundtable, and the Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Engagement Meeting (VIC). We will not stop advocating.
The Peak Nursing organisations, along with several nursing leaders have also been meeting every 1-2 weeks since earlier in the year, and continue to strongly support our fight to participate in the COVID vaccine rollout.
What can you do?
We know that some NPs are already employed in a few GP clinics, pharmacies and ACCHS, however they are not funded adequately where this is occurring, and many could be doing more.
Some NPs are engaged within the State and Territory responses within hospitals and vaccination hubs, but may have additional capacity.
However, many privately practicing NPs are still unable to vaccinate at all!
Responding to needs:
If you wish to be engaged by an ACCHS, or considered for a ‘bespoke’ need, please email a letter to email@example.com ASAP with the following details:
We will forward your responses to the ACCHS and Dr. Lucas De Toca.
Please identify any location where there is an unmet need! Feel free to provide examples of the issues you are seeing. You can also send a letter about these issues to your local Federal MP.
We will provide further updates as things progress.