2 Jul 2014

Rural GPs welcome prescription changes

9:15 pm on 2 July 2014

The Rural General Practice Network says changes to prescription laws will remove another barrier to providing medical services for people in rural areas.

The changes that take effect from July allow nurse practitioners to become authorised prescribers of medicines and controlled drugs. They also extend prescription rights for midwives and optometrists.

Rural GPs deputy chair Sharon Hansen, a nurse practitioner at Temuka, said the old rules limited medicines and amounts they could prescribe and that restricted the service they could provide for patients, especially those in rural areas.

"In rural areas, when you're a nurse practitioner that might mean you're managing people with chronic conditions with long term pain or cancers, so being able to prescribe only three days of medication under the old legislation was really restrictive.

"So this means that we can now prescribe medications around our area of practice the same as a general practitioner would do.

"That's really big for our patients. That means that they're not coming back every three days for another prescription, it means that we can more adequately manage some of their pain conditions or their cancers, or some of those things that require medication that wasn't previously available to us."

Sharon Hansen said nurse practitioners are waiting on some other legislative measures that are still in the pipeline.

"We've still got a wee way to go. We've got some legislation that needs to change around signing off medical certificates for being off work, and the Transport Act, around being able to test people for licences, that sort of thing.

"That needs to happen next, but we're getting there, so it's very positive."