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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Health
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    PHYSICIAN'S ASSISTANT TRIAL SITES ANNOUNCED

    Minister for Health
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    PHYSICIAN'S ASSISTANT TRIAL SITES ANNOUNCED

    Health Minister Stephen Robertson has today revealed the five Queensland sites which will participate in a new 12 month pilot program to train Physician’s Assistants.

    The pilot is the first of its kind in Australia and was recommended by the expert steering committee charged with investigating how and where Physician’s Assistants would fit into Queensland’s health care team.

    "I am very confident about the preliminary work done to date, and the final results of this pilot," Mr Robertson said.

    "Queensland has looked overseas for innovations that will help us improve health care delivery in the face of a worldwide shortage of doctors.

    "Physician’s Assistants will extend the capacity of our highly skilled medical workforce. They have already proven their worth in similar health systems in the United States, Canada, England and Scotland.

    "The trial will ensure we find the best way for the Physician’s Assistant role to fit with existing health care staff," he said.

    The locations for the Physician’s Assistant pilots are:

    · Mt Isa Hospital – Primary and emergency care
    · Cooktown Multi-Purpose Health Service - primary and emergency care, aged care, and chronic disease.
    · The Prince Charles Hospital - Cardiology
    · The Princess Alexandra Hospital - Cardiology

    Queensland Health will also engage the Specialist Connect private centre to trial the Physician’s Assistant role in ear, nose and throat specialist treatment.

    Ten experienced Physician’s Assistants will be recruited from the United States for the period of the pilot with two working at each of the five sites.

    Mr Roberston has also today revealed that Queensland Health will expand its successful Nurse Practitioner’s program.

    "There are 22 Nurse Practitioners already working for Queensland Health in areas such as Townsville Hospital, Redlands Hospital, Redcliffe Hospital, The Princess Alexandra Hospital and The Gold Coast Hospital," he said.

    This financial year Queensland Health expects at least ten nurse practitioners to come on line, followed by another 20 next year.

    They will go to identified priority areas of health care including rural and remote health, mental health, aged care, chronic disease and emergency departments.

    Nurse practitioners are highly qualified registered nurses who are educated to practice in an expanded role. This includes ordering and interpreting diagnostic investigations, prescribing and the direct referral of patients.

    This frees doctors to focus on more complex duties. The Nurse Practitioner role aims to enhance existing models of care as an integral part of the collaborative health care team

    The Minister said these two new roles would help Queensland Health to keep pace with increasing demand for services, while maintaining quality care.

    Ends.

    Media Contact: Kate Van Poelgeest 0458 449 267