Outcomes of the Ministerial Taskforce: Progressing expanded scope of practice

Liza-Jane McBride1, Belinda Gavaghan2 Julie Hulcombe3

1 Allied Health Professions’ Office Queensland, PO Box 2368, QLD, 4006, liza-jane.mcbride@health.qld.gov.au
2 Allied Health Professions’ Office Queensland, PO Box 2368, QLD, 4006, belinda.gavaghan@health.qld.gov.au
3 Allied Health Professions’ Office Queensland, PO Box 2368, QLD, 4006, Julie.hulcombe@health.qld.gov.au

Background

The Queensland Health Ministerial Taskforce on health practitioner expanded scope of practice: final report (the taskforce) was released in June 2014. The report concluded that improvements to patient-centred care, as well as service effectiveness and efficiency, can and should be achieved by expanding allied health scope of practice. Six recommendations, focused on facilitating systematic and statewide change, were made to guide changes to allied health scope of practice and service delivery models over the two-year implementation period.

Progress

Early success achieved legislative changes enabling prescribing by endorsed podiatrists and requesting of plain-film x-rays by physiotherapists and podiatrists. However, a range of persistent legislative and policy barriers continue to inhibit allied health workforce reform and flexibility. Health services have made good progress in implementing a number of expanded scope models that have improved patient access to services and decreased waiting times in specialist outpatient and emergency departments. Despite this progress, these models are still not widespread and are often not sustained in the mid to long-term. Influencing Commonwealth funding models has proven difficult from a jurisdiction level. Negotiation of inclusion of incentives within service agreements to support allied health expanded scope models has also been challenging.

Next steps

A three-year expanded scope strategy has been developed to further progress Taskforce recommendations and embed expanded scope of practice for allied health professionals in Queensland. Work will focus on embedding proven models of care, investing in research and data collection systems, implementing sustainable workforce development pathways and addressing persistent barriers to expanded scope of practice.

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