Despite a delayed flight, a bumpy trip across the Tasman and arriving in Auckland at 3:30am this morning, today’s Hepatitis Nursing Workshop (bolstered by several coffees) was a great start to the 8th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference. Initially, I was wondering how the Workshop would address the learning needs of both New Zealand and Australian nurses, however I felt that the speakers were very inclusive and considerate of different clinical contexts, and the concepts discussed were relevant to both sides of the Tasman.
Underpinning many presentations was an exploration of the viral hepatitis nursing role and how it is constantly being redefined. Val Honeyman, from the Hepatoma Service at Auckland City Hospital, presented on the recent and rapid change in her role, moving from absorbing HCC into her existing liver transplant coordinator role, to a dedicated HCC coordinator nursing role, to manage the increase in referral rates from 3-5/month in 2005 to 13/month currently.
Professor Ed Gane suggested that it won’t be long until nurse-led clinics will be managing cirrhosis and associated complications, not focusing on treatment as the role demands now. Janet Catt, Clinical Nurse Specialist from London, discussed the different prescribing models for viral hepatitis in the UK, including nurse and pharmacist prescribers and their role in prescribing triple therapy and managing the associated side effects. Janet also explained that all Fibroscan readings are conducted by nurses in her service. In the afternoon, Kelly Barclay from Hepatitis Foundation of NZ described the role of the new community based hepatitis nursing roles (and secondary care nurses), integral components of the new hepatitis C model of care pilot, coordinated by the Hepatitis Foundation of NZ. There was also frequent mention throughout the day of multidisciplinary teams and the benefits of working collaboratively.
The nursing role in viral hepatitis and associated complications is undeniably in a state of flux and it is exciting to see this discussed in an Australasian forum.
Thankfully, Val Honeyman also included in her session the point that research shows that caffeine intake reduces HCC risk, so in the interest of my liver health, I am off to find another coffee to see me through the evening.