Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3723 ..

remaining four are in the public system, one working in sexual health, one in the Calvary emergency department, and two in the aged care and rehabilitation service at the Canberra Hospital.

The introduction of the nurse practitioner role into our health system provides an exciting opportunity to explore innovative models of service delivery across the ACT. An article on this project appeared in today’s Canberra Times. I would like to put on the record a few corrections to the article. I understand that the errors in reporting happened in the Australian Nursing Journal.

The article is wrong in claiming that the patients waited two to 13 days on average for treatment. The average wait was 2.13 days in residential aged care facilities. If patients required urgent treatment, they were transferred to hospital.

Waiting times in the emergency department were not included in this finding. The emergency department nurse practitioner works as part of a team which includes doctors. So it is false to claim that the wait times for treatment in the emergency department were due to delays in treatment recommendations by nurse practitioners. In the study, delay before treatment was not a significant issue for the sexual health nurse practitioner or the emergency department nurse practitioner, and no emergency department data were included.

The larger commonwealth funded project is comprehensive and covers a longitudinal study of the role of aged care nurse practitioners. The pilot study was an ancillary project. The preliminary findings warrant further investigation and will not be published without a statistically significant sample size.

Some of the possible issues in relation to delays to treatment relate to the difficulties the nurse practitioners have in prescribing medication. This is an issue that health ministers will have to discuss with the next federal health minister once they are in place in a few weeks time.

In the ACT, nurse practitioners are legally able to prescribe certain medications as approved in their individual clinical practice guidelines. However, nurse practitioners are unable to obtain a prescriber number or a provider number under the current commonwealth legislation. So in practical terms nurse practitioners may legally prescribe medication; however, the consumer is not eligible for a rebate of the cost of the medication unless that medication is prescribed by a medical practitioner. Therefore, any medication prescribed by a nurse practitioner carries a cost impost and a disadvantage to the consumers. Nurse practitioners feel ethically responsible to ensure that their patients are not disadvantaged and refer recommended medication orders to medical practitioners so that they are able to get the rebated cost through the PBS.

This needs to be addressed, because we have to take full advantage of the benefits that the nurse practitioner can provide—not now but in the future in terms of our workforce in the health field. This is a significant barrier to the implantation and efficiency of the role of nurse practitioners. I have spoken to a number of nurse practitioners and nurses who aspire to become nurse practitioners who see this as the

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . .