Thursday, June 10, 2010

Would you like to see the nurse?

 Would you be happy to see a nurse instead of a doctor for some of your medical care? Health Care Consumer’s Association, in partnership with the ANU, is asking just that question through an online Nurse Survey being conducted throughout June.

ACT Health estimates that Canberra needs another 74 GPs to satisfy our needs. This means that many Canberrans are not able to see a doctor when they need medical treatment. More than half of the respondents to HCCA’s ACT GP Snapshot Survey, conducted in 2009, had to wait for more than a day to see a doctor for an urgent matter. With this in mind the ACT Government have developed the newly opened Walk in Centre at the Canberra Hospital. This is entirely staffed by nurses. There are nurses working in general practices as well and there are going to be more.

The Federal Government announced in the budget that they will pour $393.3 million into general practices in Australia to employ practice nurses to deliver primary health care. That’s enormous. Yet, we don’t know how consumers feel about this. Are they, or would they be, happy to see a nurse for medical treatment instead of a doctor at their local general practice? That’s what we are trying to find out through our survey. It may be that consumers feel that seeing a nurse is second best, maybe they think it’s a great thing and there should be more of it. We just don’t know. No-one has ever asked the question. Until now.

Last year HCCA conducted a survey which took a snapshot of General Practices in the ACT and it revealed that women with children under 5 and the over 65’s were more likely to see a nurse working in a general practice. HCCA is hoping that these groups in particular will participate in this new survey though it is open to everyone living in and near the ACT.

“We want to flesh out the picture and find out whether people think seeing a nurse instead of a doctor is a good choice in some situations.”

Do the Nurse Survey now. A link can be found at

Darlene Cox was interviewed by Lousie Maher about the survey on the local ABC radio.  Part of the interview can be found on the ABC website.