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Health Officials Consult on Nursing Developments

Health Officials Consult on Nursing Developments

February 17th, 2006

Talks between health officials being held next week will explore how to maximise the value of nurse practitioners working within DHBs and PHOs.

A sector consultation day is being held in Wellington on Monday, where DHBs, PHOs, non-government organisations (NGOs), the Ministry of Health, other government ministries and professional bodies will discuss the role of nurse practitioners and how they could play a more integral part in our health workforce.

Nurse practitioners advocate health promotion and disease prevention, are able to diagnose health problems and in some cases, can prescribe medication. They work to address and reduce inequalities in health.

The Ministry of Health's Chief Advisor of Nursing Mark Jones says DHBs and PHOs need to start looking at how they can gain maximum benefit from nurse practitioners.

"Nurse practitioners are ideally placed to provide many of the programmes and services needed to achieve the objectives of the Primary Health Care Strategy".

"The development of nurse practitioners is not intended to duplicate services from existing health providers, but they are ideally placed to supplement current health providers".

The South Island's only nurse practitioner Bernadette Forde is based in Dunedin, with the Otago District Health Board, working in a specialist mental health area, focusing on clients who have a serious mental illness and a learning disability. She's also registered to prescribe medications and runs her own clinic and domiciliary service.

Bernadette Forde says "nurse practitioner roles are aimed at addressing and reducing inequalities and inequities in health and will result in more responsive services with a high degree of continuity of care. That will result in improved health outcomes for specific populations. The role of a nurse practitioner is hugely important and more are desperately needed around the country, especially in the mental health and disability sector. Since I began my role last year, access has already been improved for Southland clients in rural areas who no longer have to travel to Dunedin for appointments".

"It's important that DHBs, PHOs, other government agencies and NGOs understand the role of nurse practitioners and the potential that goes with that. Understanding what a positive impact nurse practitioners can have within organisations such as these can make a huge difference to the health sector and the health of the New Zealand population", says Bernadette Forde.

Following Monday's sector consultation day, the Nurse Practitioner Employment and Development Working Party, which Bernadette Forde is also part of, will meet on Tuesday 21st February for a planning day, discussing outcomes from Monday's meeting.

The sector consultation day is one of the strategies being used by the Nurse Practitioner Employment and Development Working Party to look at sustainable employment and funding opportunities for nurse practitioners.

Background Information:

The Nurse Practitioner Employment and Development Working Party was set up in August last year and is chaired by Kim Tito, General Manager of Northland District Health Board. It includes professional nursing advisors, other DHB representatives and nurse practitioners. The working party's role is to address health workforce issues surrounding nurse practitioners.

To become a nurse practitioner, nurses must first complete a clinical masters degree and have four years experience in the field of their choice. To be able to prescribe medication, nurse practitioners must complete a prescribing practicum plus a number of prerequisite university-level papers.

The Nursing Council of New Zealand then completes the comprehensive process with an interview by an expert panel which either accepts or declines nurse practitioner applicants.

Nurse practitioners have been working in America for about 40 years and in more recent years, Europe and Canada.

For further information on nurse practitioners please refer to the link below - Nurse Practitioners in New Zealand, published by the Ministry of Health in 2002.

http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/ea6005dc347e7bd44c2566a40079ae6f/16f47058bb bc49d3cc256bf900721fa6/$FILE/NursePractitionersinNZ.pdf

ENDS

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