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The Independent Weekly
February 5 - 11, 2010
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Calls for the next state govern-
ment to expand the number
and role of nurse practition-
ers to improve an overburdened
health system have coincided with
an interstate debate on independ-
ence for the specialist nurses.
The Australian Nursing
Federation wants independent
nurse clinics established if an
agreement cannot be reached with
local general practices.
The AMA and Royal Australian
College of General Practitioners
strongly oppose a plan in the ACT for
nurse practitioners, who are highly
trained and specialised, to operate
independently at pharmacies.
Professor Nigel Stocks, chair of
the college s SA and NT faculty, said
the state should be wary of changes
to the general practitioner system.
"General practice has served
Australia well for over 50 years and
we have a very good health system
in Australia with very good health
outcomes," he said.
"That s not to say that things
could not be improved, but the basis
for our success is in primary care --
that is, GPs."
A member of the Australian
College of Nurse Practitioners
board and a nurse practitioner
at Queen Elizabeth Hospital,
Cassandra Ryan said her colleagues
relieved over-worked doctors.
"We re saying the doctors are
unable to cope with the increasing
burden and we are willing to step
up to the plate and help with that
burden," she said.
In the emergency department
where she works, Ms Ryan said
nurse practitioners often cared for
patients who had been unable to
make an appointment with their
The success of nurse practition-
ers in decreasing waiting times has
prompted the nursing federation s
SA branch to call for nurse practi-
tioner clinics here.
The ANF also recommends
round-the-clock nurse practitioners
in hospital emergency departments.
SA branch secretary Elizabeth
Dabars said nurse-run clinics were
popular and useful in the UK and
"There is a chronic underuse
and failure to recognise the value
of nurse practitioners in SA," she
"There have been some groups
that have made outlandish claims
about safety being compromised
(under nurse practitioner care), but
there is no evidence to suggest that
is the case."
Ms Dabars said nurse prac-
titioners are "maxi-nurses not
mini-doctors" and always knew when
to refer patients who had problems
outside their area of expertise.
"Absolutely, unequivocally, SA
would benefit no end to better sup-
port and better enabled advanced
"Nurse-run clinics give people
choice and access to services that
are safe and are effective."
Professor Stocks said a concern
with nurse practitioners was a
disruption in the continuity of care,
with patients potentially having to
see a different person for each
However, Ms Ryan says the
structure of many metropolitan GP
centres mean patients often see a
different doctor each visit.
RACGP president Dr Chris
Mitchell has said he supports an
expanded role for nurse practition-
ers within general practice, but
not the concept of a parallel and
Professor Stocks said the
college s opposition to the nurse
practitioner plan was not about
"It s not protective when we have
the best interest of the patients and
our communities at heart."
There are 31 nurse practitioners
in SA, but the ANF has requested
scholarships provide for 100
candidates a year for the next four
The suspended Wallaroo to Lucky
Bay ferry service may not be
relaunched until November 2010 --
or even later.
Opened in the summer of 2006,
the vehicular ferry slashed travel
times between the Yorke and Eyre
Peninsulas. In early 2008 another
ferry joined the Lucky Bay route
to cater for the high demand, and
in August 2009 it was announced a
new and modified ferry, the Aurora,
would be ready for use by the middle
of this year.
Yet in October 2009 the service,
which cuts more than 300km
off the journey between the two
peninsulas, was suspended until
The two vessels were sold to Abu
Dhabi, and it was back to the car for
people wanting to travel to or from
Ferry staff were sacked. Now,
without a definite date for its
resumption, the former staff are
in limbo and growing increasingly
anxious. Yorke Peninsula towns and
villages, briefly tasting the delights
of bustling tourist traffic, are once
again almost deserted and local
businesses are feeling the pain.
Two penguin chicks have died after
they were seized by a government
officer from the Kangaroo Island
"It is unforgivable," said the
centre s owners.
The birds were among five pen-
guins removed by the Department
of Environment and Heritage,
after it claimed the centre s John
Ayliffe and wife Jenny Clapson had
breached the conditions of a permit
issued for their care. The couple had
rescued the chicks from Kingscote
penguin colony after they were
abandoned by their mother.
"There is absolutely no reason
those birds should have died," Mr
Ayliffe said. "We are extremely
annoyed. I am absolutely certain
they would have lived if they had
stayed here -- they were feeding well
and putting on weight."
A DEH spokesperson said this
week the penguins were in poor
health when they were taken from
the centre, but this is disputed by
Mr Ayliffe, who said the officer who
removed them commented on their
Mr Ayliffe believes stress
contributed to the penguins death.
He said after being seized by DEH,
they were transported in cat cages
from Kangaroo Island to Adelaide
Zoo "on a stinking hot day".
The remaining penguins are still
being cared for at the zoo, and DEH
said it was not yet known if or when
they would be released back into the
Mr Ayliffe and Ms Clapson have
been fined $240 for breaching the
permit conditions for the birds.
DEH now considers the matter
closed -- but the couple doesn t
The pair is concerned about what
will happen to the remaining birds,
and want a meeting with DEH to
discuss future management of the
colony. Meanwhile, they are not
prepared to risk further fines by
rescuing more penguins.
"We got a call last week from
someone who saw two sick penguins
and a dead one in the colony," Mr
Ayliffe. "She was very disturbed,
but we couldn t do anything. If we
go and rescue any more the second
fine would be massive."
No ferry cross the mer, see
SA nurses want
a different health
New day for
JAM USA/0595/19 CRICOS PROVIDER NO 00121B
A sustainable water future without
compromising the health of interdependent
ecosystems is a critical issue for our state
and our nation.
Hear from Professor Ian Lowe, President
of the Australian Conservation Foundation
and key government representatives.
Thursday 11 February
Allan Scott Auditorium, UniSA City West
campus, Hawke Building, 50 North Terrace
5.30pm for a 6.00pm start
Limited spaces available. To register, visit
Hawke Centre and Water Action Coalition public forum.
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