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The Forum > Article Comments > A declining health workforce: what’s the answer? > Comments

A declining health workforce: what’s the answer? : Comments

By Kevin Pittman, published 3/8/2005

Kevin Pittman argues the problem of our declining health workforce must be tackled at many different levels.

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a midwife's point of view....
thanks, little johnny et al, for the baby bonus bribe - but what about that elephant in the living room as described by Kevin Pittman? 5 years ago the average age of australian midwives was 49, and those that are still left standing are struggling. double shifts, working many of their precious rostered days off, unable to take time off to study or attend to other facets of a healthy life. a part time or casual position means your phone will constantly ring with shift supervisors almost begging you to come in to fill a constant hole in the staff roster.
one way to let off some steam in the pressure cooker is to de-medicalise and re-normalise pregnancy, labour and birth. it would also save an awful lot of mis-spent health funds, decrease rates of post natal depression among australian women (amongst the highest rates in the world) and increase breastfeeding (amongst the lowest rates in the world).
midwives catch (deliver) babies. but the midwives are getting older... and more tired (if that's possible). there's an emergency about to happen in the maternity wards, australia.....
we need more midwives. or something more elegant than a bribe to breed.
Posted by woodmyn, Thursday, 4 August 2005 12:16:35 PM
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There is no one solution to the problems surrounding a shrinking and ageing health work force.

One partial solution is for professions to surrender some territory. Nurse practitoners is a good example.But a coordinated approach could move things along. In England Nurses undertake coclonoscopies in bowel screning programms. Indications are the program is safe and effective. And much of the work in Operating Theatres, for example is a technical skill unrelated to the precepts taught to undergraduate nurses.Much of this work could be handed over to techincians trained in specific function.
The role of Registered Nurses in Nursing homes is also and rightly under serious question. Most of the care is delivered by lesser trained nurses - the real bone of contention is in the administration of medication; and given that many nursing homes fail on the stadards linked to the administration of medications it is clear that there is a better way and that having a DIV 1 RN in charge 24 hours a day is any gaurantee of quality
Docotors historically give up functions as they become less "sexy" and hand them down to nurses; there is no reason why a coordinated approach could not rationally accelerate the process.
Federal Governments have for a long time offered GP's all manner of subsidies for inter net connectivity, little sweetners to coax them into nursing homes: yet faced with a critical shortage of nurses in all the specialities nurse attract very little in the manner of cost off sets or incentives to invest in higher education.
THe looming industrial relations changes run the risk of chasing more nurses from the game. If penalty rates are threatened, for example, how many nurses will still embrace the concept of weekend night duty in and accident and emergency departmentwhere the only added extra to your shift is a smack in the mouth by some drunk and unruly punter
Posted by sneekeepete, Thursday, 4 August 2005 4:53:52 PM
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