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Nurse Prescribing Regulations Take Effect

Media Release

11 October 2001

Nurse Prescribing Regulations Take Effect

Efforts to recruit and retain nurses in the New Zealand health sector were enhanced today, with the introduction of new regulations for nurse prescribing.

From today, Nurse Practitioners practising in aged care and child family health, who meet the Nursing Council's competency and training requirements, can prescribe a specific list of prescription and controlled medicines. In addition, these nurses will be able to prescribe a specified list of general sale, pharmacy only and restricted medicines.

Acting Chief Advisor Nursing, Pamela Lee said the introduction of nurse prescribing in aged care and child family health creates new career options for our nurses and will help attract and retain nurses already working in the sector.

"Provision of nurse prescribing also has the potential to improve access to services, improve patient education and reduce secondary illnesses and hospital admissions for children and older people.

"Education and competency requirements for nurse prescribing are substantive and specify that the nurse must have Master's level education that covers all prescribing processes and advanced nursing practice."

Many overseas nurses already have a Masters level qualification in prescribing, however in New Zealand it has only recently become available.

A post-implementation review of nurse prescribing in aged care and child family health will be undertaken over a three year period. The costs and benefits will be assessed with PHARMAC monitoring the impact on the pharmaceutical budget.

A New Prescribers Advisory Committee has also been set up to advise the Minister of Health on further prescribing proposals. Proposals are currently being developed for nurse prescribing in sexual and reproductive health, mental health, occupational health and palliative care.

For more information contact: Selina Gentry, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277 5411 http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

Background The Medicines Act 1981 was amended in 1999 to enable the making of regulations to allow nurses, and other registered health professionals (eg, optometrists, pharmacists) to prescribe a specified list of medicines.

Two expert working groups comprising medical practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists were established to develop proposals to extend prescribing rights to nurses in aged care and child family health. The working groups' proposals were circulated in a consultation document to the public and the health sector. Submissions on the consultation document were analysed and proposals presented to Cabinet in April 2000. Following Cabinet approval to the making of the regulations to allow nurse prescribing in aged care and child family health, further work was undertaken on the details of the regulations, to ensure that robust quality and safety requirements were placed on nurse prescribers.

The Antimicrobial Resistance Working Group, for example, was consulted on the proposed antibiotics on the lists for nurse prescribing in aged care and child family health, and education providers and the Nursing Council were consulted on the proposed regulatory framework for the competency and education requirements for nurse prescribers. Considerable time and effort has therefore gone into the drafting of the regulations.

Nurse prescribing will form part of the Nursing Council's framework for nurse practitioners.

A New Prescribers Advisory Committee has also been established to advise the Minister of Health on further prescribing proposals. Proposals are currently being developed by the sector for nurse prescribing in sexual and reproductive health, mental health, occupational health, and palliative care. Proposals are also in train for pharmacists, optometrists, and podiatrists. The Committee will scrutinise all future prescribing proposals and advise the Minister as to whether the proposals should proceed to Cabinet for the making of further regulations.

Selina Gentry Media Liaison Communications Corporate & Information Directorate Ministry of Health DDI: 04 496 2483

http://www.moh.govt.nz mailto:selina_gentry@moh.govt.nz

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