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Nurse Practitioner Skills Wasted

New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation

Media Release

10 April 2008


Nurse Practitioner Skills Wasted

Nurse Practitioners’ skills, knowledge and experience continue to be under-utilised, unnecessarily hindering health care accessibility issues in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation today said in a submission to the Transport and Industrial Relation Select Committee on the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2), that current legislation renders Nurse Practitioners unable to make full use of their assessment skills.

In the case of assessment for ACC, Nurse Practitioners, despite being able to assess a patient’s incapacity to work due to injury, are unable to sign a medical certificate of incapacity. A Medical Practitioner is still required to complete a task that is well within a Nurse Practitioner’s capability, unnecessarily slowing the process for the patient and tying up Medical staff time. 

NZNO Professional Services Manager Susanne Trim says that in order to perform their role to their full potential, Nurse Practitioners should only need to consult with medical staff on those patients whose clinical presentation is more complex than originally thought. “Asking medical staff to sign patients off work under ACC is an inappropriate use of their time and adversely affects the patient’s progress through the assessment process.”

Other instances where greater use of Nurse Practitioners assists health care accessibility include:

Emergency Departments – working with low acuity patients who often have excessive waiting times.
Primary Health –ordering community laboratory and radiological tests. 

Susanne Trim says NZNO finds it very frustrating that although the Ministry of Health is working to address barriers to innovative practice such as Nurse Practitioner roles, new legislation that imposes barriers continues to be drawn up.

NZNO hopes the Select Committee will take the submission on board and make appropriate amendments to continue the development of Nurse Practitioners as an integral component of our health system.




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