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Nurse specialist may gain prescribing right.

The government is considering extending prescribing rights to nurse specialists. Speaking at the inaugural conference for nurse practitioners (NPs) in Dunedin last month, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said such a move would encourage "more flexible and efficient ways of delivering health services and the need for multiple referrals between health practitioners would be reduced."

Extending prescribing rights to "the hundreds of nurse specialists" would also help reduce secondary illnesses, complications and hospital admissions, the Minister said.

Responding to the Minister's comments, NZNO president Marion Guy said prescribing rights were only a small part of ensuring accessible care. "Funding nurses who are specialists in their fields, eg in asthma and respiratory diseases, diabetes and wound care, to provide clinics for people with chronic illnesses would do more to improve access and prevent hospital admissions than prescribing rights. If funding streams were altered to give nurse specialists more freedom to practise in their specialities, that would improve access greatly," she said.

NZNO has always held the view that nurse specialist prescribing, with appropriate education to ensure public safety, should be an option in the health care system.

Seventy six nurses attended the conference, entitled Best Practice in Prescribing: First Nurse Practitioner Conference. This inaugural conference was hosted by Otago Polytechnic and coordinators Ken Wysocki and Jean Ross were pleased with its success. Many participants had appreciated the opportunity to network with professional colleagues, participate in clinical updates, and see support from Ministry of Health, professional nursing organisations and the pharmaceutical sector.

The keynote address, "Prescribing in primary care: the importance of a broad base of diagnostic knowledge and collaboration," was given by the first NP to gain prescribing rights in New Zealand, Paula Renouf. Continuing education sessions included mental health by NP Bernadette Forde, neonatal health by New Zealand's first NP Deborah Harris, cardiovascular, diabetes and Maori health perspectives by NP Adriane Murray and men's health by NP Ken Wysocki.

There are now 2g NPs in New Zealand and 11 have prescribing rights.

A legislative policy update and a forum on NP portfolio processes fuelled discussion among participants. The success of the conference was in the enthusiasm of the participants across the country and was underpinned by the financial support of a number of pharmaceutical companies. Negotiations are underway for another tertiary education institution to host the conference in November next year.

* The Nursing Council has been evaluating its application process for NPs and the revised process will be published in the February issue of Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand.

* With thanks to NP Ken Wysocki for his contribution to this report.
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Title Annotation:NEWS AND EVENTS
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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