The Napthine Government has announced health assistant in nursing (HAN) trials will take place at Eastern, Monash and Barwon Health.
It is well established, through international research, that skill mix is an important determinant of quality patient care and adverse outcomes. Representing the professional and industrial needs of members, the ANMF is concerned about members' ability to continue to provide safe and quality care when skill mix is threatened.
We are concerned the Napthine Government's announcement to run health assistant in nursing (HAN) pilot programs at Eastern, Monash and Barwon Health is a further step in its bid to cut the health budget by abolishing nurse/midwife to patient ratios through the substitution of registered and enrolled nurses with health assistants. At the 2013 Annual Delegates Conference, held in June, Health Minister David Davis was asked whether he could promise that a re-elected Coalition Government would not try to substitute nurses with health assistants in the negotiations for the next public sector nurses and midwives enterprise agreement in 2016. Disappointingly Mr Davis' reply was not a categorical ‘no' instead saying: "Well, that is not the intention. The intention is that these are additional nurse assistants, they're supernumerary."
In light of recent international research and the findings and recommendations from the Francis Report into the terrible care standards at the Mid Staffordshire hospitals it is critical we recognise when attempts to reduce health care costs threaten patient care. It is also vital to maintain the skill mix in Victoria's public hospitals to ensure there is enough qualified staff to meet the increasingly complex patient care needs.