NP barriers starting to fall

10 August 2016

From next week nurse practitioners will be able to join doctors and dentists in being able to issue standing orders – removing one more barrier to NP practice.

Parliament this month is also due to have the second reading of the long anticipated omnibus 'barriers' bill that amend eight Acts to remove references to 'doctors' or 'medical practitioners' where nurse practitioners and other health practitioners are now qualified to carry out those roles. In a further move the Health Protection Amendment Act was passed in June which will allow health practitioners like NPs and registered nurses to notify infectious diseases under the Health Act 1956. PHARMAC has also just completed consultation on allowing NPs working in specialty fields for district health boards to prescribe some special authority pharmaceuticals currently restricted to 'specialists'.

The Medicines (Standing Order) Amendment Regulations (2016) comes into effect on August 17 and from then on nurse practitioners and prescribing optometrists can join issue standing orders allowing registered nurses and optometrists to administer or supply specified medicines. Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the move would improve patient's timely access to medicines especially in areas like family planning clinics, primary care and aged care facilities.

Jane Jeffcoat, the chair of Nurse Practitioners New Zealand (NPNZ) says she is delighted by the smooth passing of the regulations amendment which she says is very timely with the developments in registered nurse prescribing. She said it was also good to see how "expeditiously" the amendment was passed and brought into force compared to the somewhat "cumbersome" progress of the long-awaited omnibus Health Practitioners (Replacement of Statutory References to Medical Practitioners) Bill

Michal Boyd, past NPNZ chair and an NP in older adult care for Waitemata DHB also welcomed the standing orders regulation.

She said she was also looking forward to seeing the omnibus 'barriers' bill progress to remove barriers in her area of practice including prescribing controlled drugs and being able to sign death certificates.

The PHARMAC consultation follows feedback that patients under the care of DHB NPs were facing barriers to accessing some subsidised pharmaceuticals under current rules. PHARMAC said the definition of a 'specialist' allowed to prescribe some restricted medicines and other pharmaceuticals pre-dated the emergence of NPs working in public hospitals in specialties like oncology, respiratory and emergency medicine.  The changes, which would come into effect on October 1 if endorsed by PHARMAC, would be limited to 'special authority' medicines prescribed by NPs on DHB stationery and to prescribing medicines relevant to the NP's specialty.


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