Lifting the invisibility cloak: the role of nurses in Hepatitis C elimination

A report back on Jacqui Richmond's presentation: Lifting the invisibility cloak: the role of nurses in Hepatitis C elimination

Nurses are a large group of Health Professionals with numbers in excess of 365,000 in Australia, including an estimated 1800 Nurse Practitioners but why is it that their contribution is invisible? Jacqui raised the uncomfortable question in a room of delegates dominated in numbers by nurses.

Nurses are a trusted profession and work across a variety of settings but still they underrepresented on steering committees such as Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia. Nurses play a vital role in Hepatitis C elimination so its time we step up, team up and “lift the invisibility cloak”.

Jacqui highlighted the important work that nurses do and also the fact that we are not doing a great job collating evidence to support our practice. Jacqui was able to demonstrate the huge contribution that Nurse Practitioners are making in prescribing DAAs in a small sample, informal research activity that was conducted. So, what is stopping us from blowing our own trumpet?

It is somewhat difficult to measure all what nurses do and nurses tend to just get on with their work. Despite this, potential funding, bodies require evidence as to the important contribution nurses are making. It’s time to get a seat at the table. Numbers are important and we are a major resource in the health care sector. How can we achieve this?

Agencies such as APNA support primary care nurses to integrate Hep C into their practice but it is up to each individual to scale up their efforts to achieve Hepatitis C elimination. This can most effectively be done in partnership with other health professionals such as Doctors, Researchers and Peers. Nurses are in a unique position to be able to deliver person centred care and play an essential role in harm minimisation, testing and treating. We need to measure these efforts and gain the attention of government and key stakeholders.

In order to reach the target of Hepatitis C elimination I am inspired to work with my colleagues in the prison setting to record the work we are doing, including what is working well and what isn’t. This knowledge can then be shared with other priority settings and be presented to funding bodies to continue the momentum in achieving Hepatitis C elimination.

Author-bio: Tahlia Kinnane is a Nurse Practitioner at Acacia Prison in Perth. She has 28 years of nursing experience and 8 years as a Nurse Practitioner. Tahlia is involved in delivering primary care and has a special interest in Hepatitis. In her spare time Tahlia enjoys spending time at her country house in the South West of Western Australia.