The rapid increase in demand for hepatitis C prevention, diagnosis, treatment and support services has created challenges for the workforce. Many people in the health workforce have received little or no pre-service training for hepatitis C68 yet all general practitioners and primary healthcare services see people with hepatitis C or at risk of hepatitis C.
Workforce development is critical for minimising the impact of hepatitis C on individuals and the community as a whole. Easy access to information about transmission, testing, treatment and referral through a broad range of professionals underpins the majority of the priority action areas in this Third National Hepatitis C Strategy 2010–2013. However, many health and community sector workers lack the capacity to effectively care for and support people with hepatitis C due to low levels of hepatitis C knowledge.
Clinical, prevention and community services and organisations which support people with hepatitis C need to be adequately resourced and informed to deliver appropriate services to people with hepatitis C. Specific support should also be provided to peer-education and support services.
Mainstream hepatitis C treatment services are not readily accessed by people with hepatitis C from priority populations. People with hepatitis C from CALD backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, young people and people who inject drugs all have special needs in accessing hepatitis C treatment and care.
Priority actions in workforce development
- Prioritise workforce development for the hepatitis C prevention workforce—including NSP workers; alcohol and other drug workers; medical, nursing and certain allied health professionals; youth workers; the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce; the CALD workforce; and custodial workers such as health professionals and custodial staff—to increase awareness and understanding of the infection, reduce discrimination surrounding it and improve access to services for people who inject drugs.
- Develop and implement cultural competency training for hepatitis C treatment providers to build their capacity to work with people from CALD backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Encourage universities and other health and education training organisations to include viral hepatitis, blood awareness, antidiscrimination and cultural awareness issues in their curricula.
Ministerial Advisory Committee on Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections
Michael Kidd (Chair)
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Viral Hepatitis Expert Writing Reference Group
Bob Batey (Chair)
Helen McNeill (Deputy Chair)
Top of Page68 New South Wales Health and Hardwick Consulting, 2008, Review of Hepatitis C
Treatment and Care Services. Sydney.