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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 September 2019) . . Page.. 3768 ..

As is the case for other health professionals, national regulatory and governance structures are in place to oversee the work of nurse practitioners. The scope of clinical practice for an individual nurse practitioner is subject to agreement with their employer. This bill will expand the range of services available in the ACT’s health system. As such we are pleased to support this bill today.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Corrections and Justice Health, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety and Minister for Mental Health) (11.39): I also support this amendment bill. The proposed amendment to the Health Amendment Bill 2019 will allow the scope of clinical practice of all nurse practitioners in the ACT including mental health nurse practitioners to be reviewed and credentialed for clinical privileges by a scope of clinical practice committee. Obviously I take a particular interest in this matter from the perspective of the role of mental health nurses and the opportunities it opens up to make better use of their skills for the benefit of Canberrans.

Mental health nurse practitioners are educated and endorsed to function autonomously and work collaboratively with doctors and health professionals in multiple services and settings in advanced and extended clinical roles. They are a valued profession within the healthcare system, and this addition to regulatory practice and governance has benefits to reducing administrative duplication for the purpose of quality and safety care.

Nurse practitioners in mental health care is a developing area within the Australian healthcare system and has grown rapidly over the past few years. Mental health nurse practitioners are registered nurses with specialist skills and education that enable them to provide patients with quality mental health which can improve access to mental health services.

A mental health nurse practitioner must be registered as a registered nurse and endorsed as a nurse practitioner with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. They can assess and diagnose patients across the life span from children and adolescence to the elderly and provide psychotherapy and prescribe medication. Mental health nurse practitioners can treat patients with diagnosed disorders as well as those with family histories or other factors that increase the likelihood of potential mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth.

As for nurse practitioners in the ACT the proposal will reduce regulatory and administrative duplication in relation to the governance of mental health nurse practitioners. I support the amendments the bill brought forward by the Minister for Health. I have focused, as you might imagine, specifically on the role of mental health nurse practitioners; it is an area of particular interest in my portfolios. But, of course, the changes apply to nurse practitioners across the board. I am sure the minister will add some further remarks on this, but they have tremendous scope to offer more services to our Canberra community and to use their considerable skills and experience to improve our health system. This bill will make it easier for them to offer that experience to our community, and that is why we are pleased to support it.

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