Nursing accreditation at risk without adequate funding for locum support

Mark Leddy, Practice Manager for Camperdown Clinic in VICLocated in the Corangamite Shire, also known as the Lakes and Craters region, Camperdown has a steady population of over 3,300 residents. It is two and a half hours west of Melbourne and just over an hour south of Ballarat with the Great Ocean Road a 30-40 min drive away.

The Camperdown community comprises primarily of farming and small businesses with a small percentage of welfare-based families and an increasing number of elderly residents, all of whom require access to quality and affordable healthcare services.

Camperdown Clinic provides cradle-to-grave healthcare across the Great Ocean Road to Mount Elephant and Lismore. They have employed practice nurses for over 14 years and provide educational opportunities for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and skills maintenance for their staff. The local hospital is run by General Practitioners and is supported by highly proficient nurses who care for their inpatients.

Mark Leddy, Practice Manager for Camperdown Clinic, is responsible for ensuring that appropriate staffing levels are met to provide continuity of service within the local community, especially during CPD training. Mark said, “it is always a human resource issue to rely on other team members to adjust their lifestyle in order to cover a position when training is undertaken”.

Mark first heard about the Australian Government-funded Rural Locum Assistance Programme (Rural LAP) in 2011 and he was glad the initial conversation took place.

“The assistance, guidance and professionalism were at the highest level. The whole evolution was undertaken with clear advice and, surprisingly, minimal paperwork. The quality of candidates put forward allowed management to select the most appropriate locum to cover the position. If I had been recruiting for a full-time practice nurse, all three of the candidates would have been on my interview short-list” Mark explained.

Camperdown Clinic was eligible to receive Government-funded locum support which they used for a practice nurse who was required to attend a Pap Smear Update course that was a five-hour drive away. This meant that the practice nurse was away from the clinic for several days to provide adequate travel time and undertake the course refreshed and focused. Mark said, “without access to locum support, we would not have been able to cover their absence and their accreditation may have lapsed.”  

“The ability to allow health providers access to a staffing resource through Rural LAP certainly encourages managers to support the endeavours of their staff in maintaining currency and competency”, he concluded.

Camperdown Clinic continues to access this Government-funded service with a locum currently deployed to cover a practice nurse on leave.