25 Nov 2018

Medical reprieve coming for MSD clients

12:43 pm on 25 November 2018

Nurses will be able to complete medical assessments for patients applying for Work and Income benefits from tomorrow.

Work and Income offices

Work and Income offices Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

People on the Disability Allowance, Child Disability Allowance or the Supported Living Payment will be able to visit nurse practitioners for assessment.

The Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni, said the change was designed to make access to services easier, particularly for sick and disabled people.

Nurse practitioners play a vital role in rural and high needs population areas, she said, and using them for assessments would cut travel costs and doctors' fees for beneficiaries who already used nurse practitioners for health check-ups.

The change is part of the new Social Security Act 2018.

"The new legislation allows nurse practitioners to conduct medical assessments and complete medical certificates for all MSD benefit and assistance related assessments," said Ms Sepuloni.

"These changes recognise nurse practitioners' advanced clinical training and competencies. They are strongly supported by nursing organisations which have advocated for the removal of regulatory barriers to nursing practice.

"MSD clients that already use a nurse practitioner for their primary healthcare, will be able to see the same nurse when applying for, or renewing, their benefit assistance for their medical conditions, instead of having to see a doctor.

"The changes are especially helpful for those living in small towns or rural communities where the closest doctor may be miles away. It will cut out extra travel costs and doctor fees and time spent waiting for a doctor's appointment. It also makes better use of our health workforce."