1 February 2010

Restricted activities reversal

Psychosocial interventions in serious mental illness have been dropped as a “restricted activity” after a Cabinet decision late last year. The amendment followed the recent review of the operations of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance (HPCA) Act 2003 by the Director-General of Health. Under the HPCA Act, since August 2005 “performing a psychosocial intervention with an expectation of treating a serious mental illness without the approval of a registered health practitioner” was an activity restricted to registered health professionals. But after concerns were raised by some stakeholders that this was unnecessarily restricting to other professions not covered by the Act, Cabinet voted in December to remove it as a restricted activity. The amendment came into force in mid-January but still leaves five activities that are restricted under the Act.

Changes in nursing school leadership

At least three nursing schools started the new year with acting heads after a series of resignations in the latter half of 2009. The latest change is at Southern Institute of Technology, where head Jill Parsons resigned late last year. Third-year programme manager Sally Dobbs, a recent arrival from the UK, would be acting head until a permanent appointment was made. Waiariki Institute of Technology was interviewing applicants in early February to replace former head of school Maureen Kelly who left last year to join the Nursing Council as education manager. And NorthTec said it had yet to make a permanent appointment to the programme manager position following Thomas Harding’s departure. The polytechnic was going through a management restructure and Jane Anderson was acting programme manager for the nursing school.

Nurse joins ALAC board

Nurse Barbara Docherty is one of two new board members appointed recently to the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC). Health Minister Tony Ryall said Docherty has 25 years primary health care nursing experience at clinical, educational, policy, and research levels. She is currently the director of training and development services for the Brief Interventions for Harmful Behaviours Unit at the University of Auckland. Ryall announced her appointment along with psychologist Ian Miller and the appointment of Auckland Primary Health Organisation chair Rea Wikaira as the new chair.