Boost for nurses, relief for GPs

00:00, Jun 27 2014

Changes to nurse practitioners' prescribing authority for drugs will increase access to healthcare and take pressure off GPs, Manawatu nursing experts say.

The changes, which come into effect next week, will allow nurse practitioners to prescribe any medication based on their clinical judgment, where previously there were limitations on some controlled medicines.

Kate Morton, nurse practitioner at Central City Medical in Palmerston North, said the changes were a huge step forward for healthcare and would definitely ease pressure on GPs.

"I'm very excited, it's been a long time waiting. In the three years I've been working under these limitations it's been quite frustrating at times, and for some GPs at our practice," she said.

Morton said restrictions on which medication could be prescribed meant working with some patients was inconvenient as a GP would have to sign the prescriptions.

"It certainly will be more attractive for GPs to employ a nurse practitioner now as they can actually work more independently and not be as dependent on the GP to be involved in a lot of nurse practitioner consultations."


Cook Street Health Centre nurse practitioner Karen Lowe said the new model would bring a lot more autonomy to her work.

"I can complete things and I can take overall responsibility for what I'm doing with that patient and give them the whole care that they need," she said.

"The nurses are working to their capacity and they can provide a service just as well as the GPs can, within their knowledge and boundaries."

The changes also mean access to general medical services funding would be opened up to nurse practitioner consultations.

Massey University Professor of Nursing Jenny Carryer said the changes would increase the level of service that nurse practitioners could provide to patients and make it possible to begin work developing prescribing capacity for registered nurses.

"It's all about trying to improve access to care given what huge disparities we have in New Zealand," she said.

"It is hoped to eventually have many registered nurses prescribing at a basic level and many specialist nurses prescribing for people with specific conditions. But their service will still not be at the level of nurse practitioners who have the full range of prescribing authority now.

"There is excellent evidence internationally that nurses and nurse practitioners make safe prescribing decisions."

Manawatu Standard