The Queensland Health Ministerial Taskforce on health practitioners’ expanded scope of practice: consultation findings

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Young, G, Hulcombe, J, Hurwood, A & Nancarrow, S 2015, 'The Queensland Health Ministerial Taskforce on health practitioners’ expanded scope of practice: consultation findings', Australian Health Review, vol. 39, pp. 249-254.

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Objective: Queensland Health established a Ministerial Taskforce to consult on and make recommendations for the expansion of the scope of practice of allied health roles. This paper describes the findings from the stakeholder consultation. Methods: The Ministerial Taskforce was chaired by the Assistant Minister for Health and included high-level representation from allied health, nursing, medicine, unions, consumers and universities. Widespread engagement was undertaken with stakeholders representing staff from a wide cross-section of health service provision, training and unions. Participants also tendered evidence of models incorporating full-scope and extended scope tasks undertaken by allied health professionals. Results: The consultation incorporated 444 written submissions and verbal feedback from over 200 participants. The findings suggest that full scope of practice is often restricted within the Queensland public health system, resulting in underuse of allied health capacity and workforce inefficiencies. However, numerous opportunities exist to enhance patient care by extending current roles, including prescribing and administering medications, requesting investigations, conducting procedures and reporting results. The support needed to realise these opportunities includes: designing patient-centred models of service delivery (including better hours of operation and delegation to support staff); leadership and culture change; funding incentives; appropriate education and training; and clarifying responsibility, accountability and liability for outcomes. The taskforce developed a series of recommendations and an implementation strategy to operationalise the changes. Conclusions: The Ministerial Taskforce was an effective and efficient process for capturing broad-based engagement for workforce change while ensuring high-level support and involving potential adversaries in the decision-making processes.

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