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Cabinet approves prescribing rights

12 September 2005

Cabinet approves prescribing rights for Nurse Practitioners

Nurse Practitioners across the health sector will be able to prescribe a range of medicines under new regulations approved by the Government yesterday.

The Medicines (Designated Prescriber: Nurse Practitioner) Regulations 2005 give qualified nurse practitioners, who have met rigorous requirements set by the Nursing Council, the right to prescribe a range of prescription medicines and controlled substances.

Health Minister Annette King says that previously only nurse practitioners practising in aged care and child family health had prescribing rights, and even these were limited. "More than six years of work has gone into this, and I'm absolutely delighted prescribing rights can now be extended. Nurse practitioners are an invaluable resource, and to be able to extend their role even further will be a huge benefit for all New Zealanders.

"The new prescribing rights clearly recognise the extensive range of competencies of nurse practitioners, and should help to recruit and retain nurses in New Zealand."

Of the nurse practitioners in New Zealand, one currently has prescribing rights, and others will be assessed by the Nursing Council once the regulations come into effect on 1 November 2005. At least another 100 nurses have already expressed an interest in completing nurse practitioner qualifications and applying for accreditation.

Examples of where nurse practitioners will be able to prescribe medicines are in the treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes. They will now have access to a wider range of medicines to manage diabetes including insulin, as well as medicines to treat coexisting medical conditions such as high cholesterol.

“Concern has been raised at the shortage of health practitioners in rural New Zealand particularly. The expansion of the nurse practitioner role should be widely welcomed. There is plenty of work for everybody.”

Among medicines and controlled substances nurse practitioners will not be able to access are anaesthetic agents, such as Neuro-muscular Blockers, Anaesthetic Inhalants and Anaesthetic Induction agents. The Ministry of Health will be responsible for maintaining and updating the lists of medicines nurse practitioners can prescribe.

ENDS

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