Date published: 
16 April 2020
Media event date: 
2 April 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

ALLISON LANGDON:

Today, the Government will unveil a new online training initiative that will see our registered nurses brought up-to-date with their training. Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan joins us now from Canberra. Good morning to you, Alison.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Good morning.

ALLISON LANGDON:

So we're going to double the number of ICU beds. With all of these new beds I guess it means we're going to need the nurses to man them.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

We are. Yes. And that's the intent of this training that we're launching today.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

How long will that training take before we see some relief? Will it be immediate that relief or will it take some time? Give us an idea.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

So the training takes 40 hours. It's an online training course and it's broken up into components so that you can pace the training based on your knowledge and experience as nurses, as you can imagine, ward nurses across the country have a range of experience and so they can take that training as they learn, they can self-pace it because it's based online.

ALLISON LANGDON:

So the idea of this is that, you know, you've got current ward nurses, you might have midwives, considering that, you know, this onslaught that we're predicting our hospitals will see, that this training will then allow then allow them to move into ICU units.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Yes. So remember our nursing workforce is already highly trained. This is going to give them the extra skills and knowledge they'll need to work alongside nurses who've got training and experience in critical care, so they're going to be working as part of a team. They might work in a high dependency unit or they might work in an intensive care unit, but it's- that intent is to give them that extra knowledge and experience and the confidence to work with these critically ill patients.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Is it hard finding people who aren't afraid of actually contracting this virus, who want to be on the front line and want to try to help, despite the risks?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Karl, our nursing, midwifery, our medical staff, all of our staff face a whole range of challenges every day. This is just another one of them and they'll take this on and they know what they need to do in order to make sure they can protect themselves and their patients.

ALISON LANGDON:

I think this challenge we're about to face is a little bit different to sort of anything we've seen before and I think nurses are the heart and soul of our hospitals. How are they feeling about what's coming?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

There's a trepidation and an anxiety amongst everyone; nurses, doctors, across the system. But they're- I'm confident that, as we've seen over the years, are highly trained and very capable nursing staff, you know, we're the largest profession in the health system. They'll rise to this occasion and they'll manage it as they always have as we've seen more than 200 years of nursing now across the world. It's a proud profession and we will achieve good things.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

It's really akin to war, isn't it? It's like- my grandmother was a nurse during World War II and it sort of evokes that kind of imagery and the risks and everything as well, doesn't it? There's also talk, Alison, of perhaps our retired nurses and doctors coming back in to hospitals. Given the risks - and they're in a group that is potentially at risk, at a higher risk - what are your thoughts on that?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Well those whom might have been out of retired, out of the workforce for a couple of years, they're still really valuable to the workforce and to the workplace. And those that are willing and want to, we're creating that opportunity for them today. It won't cost them anything to re-register. And then they can go about finding a role or a position that they can do that meets their skills and their knowledge.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

… Because you don't ...

ALISON MCMILLAN:

… everyone wants to play their part and I think there's another way.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

They do. And …

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Sorry, Karl?

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Yeah. No, no. I don't want to interrupt you. You're the person I want to get information from and you're doing such a great job. What I'm trying to say is that this is a really at high risk group that is potentially coming back in and we've seen some awful things in the UK where retired doctors have contracted the virus. That's something you want to protect as well. And I guess they want to be protected.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

They do and we do want to protect them and that's a major priority for us. And so they'll need, like everyone, to have the necessary training and knowledge to make sure they can protect themselves and their patients from COVID-19.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Yeah.

ALLISON LANGDON:

And Alison, just looking at the number of ICU beds, I mean do you think Australia has the facilities to double them and still provide that same level of care?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Yes, I do. I think that we've been working at this for a - for quite some time now. We've been identifying additional space, what extra equipment, what training we need. And this course is only one of a number of things we've been doing to ensure that we can grow our intensive care capacity as the demand for intensive care grows.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Nurses fulfil such an important role and we want to send our love out to them all. It's such a difficult role and nurses are telling us all to stay at home at the moment. And let me tell you that one person I'm not going to mess with ever in my life is someone who's a midwife. I'm just not going to mess with them. Ever.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

That's a good idea. Don't mess with a midwife.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

We love it. Thank you so much for all you're doing and to all of our nurses out there and our doctors going into the front lines of all of this, thank you so much.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Thanks for your time.

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