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Minister announces hospital-based training scheme for nurses if Coalition wins election.

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Friday 14 September 2007

Minister announces hospital-based training scheme for nurses if Coalition wins election


PETER CAVE: The Federal Government will be hoping to put the leadership turm oil of the past week behind it today, with an announcement about a return to hospital-based training for nurses. 


The Prime Minister will announce the new system in Sydney. It will see an extra 500 nurses a year trained in hospitals, rather than universities, as part of back to basics approach. 


From Canberra, Peta Donald reports. 


PETA DONALD: If the Federal Government wins the election, nurse training will be done in hospitals again, not just in universities. Twenty-five privately operated nursing schools would be built in hospitals around the country, as part of the $170-million plan. 


Five hundred extra nurses would be trained each year, according to the Health Minister Tony Abbott. 


TONY ABBOTT: It will be based on hospital training in the old style, because one of the real problems with nurse training in recent years is that too much of it has been the classroom, not enough of it has been in hospitals, and it's important that nurses come out of their training program understanding patients and ready to help from day one. 


PETA DONALD: Well, they already have a clinical element to their university training, and in the '90s, it was thought to be the way to go to train nurses in universities. 


TONY ABBOTT: Mmm. Yes well, I think that we're a little wiser now than we were then, and I think that the pendulum's swung a bit too far and this will be an additional nursing pathway, which will be entirely hospital-based. 


Now, it doesn't mean that they won't be doing their classes, but the classes will be in hospitals, the training will be in hospitals and when they come out of their training, they will be absolutely, thoroughly familiar and acclimatised to work in hospitals.  


PETA DONALD: But the Australian Nursing Federation is not impressed. It hasn't been consulted about the plan, and believes it's a big step backwards for the profession. 


Lisa Fitzpatrick is the State Secretary of the Federation's Victorian Branch, and she remembers what it was like to be trained in a hospital. 


LISA FITZPATRICK: Look, it was a wonderful experience, but it was very difficult trying to study and to work full-time, and you did make up the workforce and it was an apprenticeship scheme. Nursing and the skills required for nursing nowadays has changed since the 1980s when we had hospital-based training. 


The acuity of the patients is much greater, the skills and the expertise that is required by nurses, their assessment skills, their understanding, their work with inter, ah, other professions is much greater than back in '80s and I do really think that this is very disappointing that the Prime Minister is attempting to take nursing back into the last century. 


PETA DONALD: Well, what is the advantage of university-based training for nurses then? 


LISA FITZPATRICK: It is a very good preparation for them to work in any health (inaudible) not just a hospital setting. Nurses aren't just found in hospitals. And it's important because it exposes nurses to research, for example, a research culture so that they can improve the practice of nurses into the future. 


To take nurses away from the university sector and go back to the days where doctors and hospital administrators and employers were conducting and had input to their training programs is a huge setback for nursing, and one that won't be accepted by the profession at all. 


PETER CAVE: Lisa Fitzpatrick from the Australian Nursing Federation.