HELPING HAND: West Moreton Health Diabetes Nurse Navigator Kay Dean.
HELPING HAND: West Moreton Health Diabetes Nurse Navigator Kay Dean. Cordell Richardson

Important cogs in the healthcare system here to stay

THE important men and women who help patients with complex health issues navigate the system and guide them towards the best care possible will have a permanent place in our hospitals.

The 17 current West Moreton Health Nurse Navigators will continue in their crucial roles, with another four to be introduced soon, after the State Government committed to more funding for the program.

The four new local roles include a complex care coordinator as well as Nurse Navigators to provide support for urology chronic conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander chronic conditions and renal chronic conditions.

Health Minister Steven Miles said the success of the program, first created in 2015, had warranted them a permanent place in the system.

Four hundred were employed across Queensland in 2017.

"The Palaszczuk Government is committing to funding the program on an ongoing and recurrent basis, with an additional $116.8 million in this budget," he said.

"Our commitment to Nurse Navigators is the largest single investment in nursing made by a State Government in Australia - an investment of $398 million from July 2015 to June 2023."

Executive Director Dr Robyn Henderson said Nurse Navigators linked patients to services within West Moreton Health and between external partners including the Primary Health Network and the National Disability Insurance Agency.

"We understand the healthcare system is complex and people will often need to access care from different health providers and specialties, depending on the complexity of their individual needs," Dr Henderson said.

"Nurse Navigators smooth the patient journey by making sure that all those care providers - from GPs, surgeons and allied health workers to community health services - are communicating effectively about the needs of their patients.

"They've got the experience and intimate knowledge of the health system to be able to identify a patient's needs and link them to the most appropriate service provider either in the hospital, community or home setting."

Dr Henderson said West Moreton Health's Nurse Navigators provided support to patients in areas including midwifery, paediatrics, urology and prostate care and chronic conditions. A Nurse Navigator has also been appointed to support people who frequently visited the emergency department.

"This system utilises nursing to its complete capability, resulting in patients being able to access care closer to home, and stay out of hospital for longer."

Patients with complex health issues guided by nurses

THE commitment means dedicated staff like West Moreton Health Diabetes Nurse Navigator Kay Dean can continue to work closely with patients to connect them with the healthcare they need.

"As a Nurse Navigator I advocate for patients, help them access services, and support them as they learn about their healthcare journey, which empowers them to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing," Ms Dean said.

"I am also privileged to work with a fantastic team of navigators who come from a diverse background and has a wealth of knowledge in each of our specialist fields.

"Having practiced in the UK and worked in many different health settings, including primary and acute care, this role has allowed me to bring together all my nursing, leadership and interpersonal skills to help people feel comfortable in the health care environment."

Health Minister Steven Miles said the position was created in 2015 to help patients who had complex health issues navigate the health system.

"Imagine you're a patient with a complex health condition, you require multiple visits to different specialists and sometimes even at different hospitals. It can be confusing during a very stressful time," he said.

"The highly experienced Nurse Navigators play an integral role in a patient's health care journey, ensuring they are seen by the right person, at the right time and in the right place.

"Not only do they help patients navigate the system, but they also educate them about self-managing their conditions and improving their way of life."