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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3202 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The trial included gathering evidence on education needs, which is a new part of the trials conducted elsewhere and will contribute to an evidence-based training program in the ACT. I understand that the government will be shortly receiving the final report. I am grateful to Professor Glynn Gardner for explaining aspects of the trial to us.

I understand Mr Stanhope's concerns. He has not formally received the report, or maybe he has not seen it at all. My understanding is that it is positive and includes recommendations for training and accreditation and changes to laws. This motion is timely, in that we can lend our support to the government to progress this work, although I do understand Mr Stanhope's concern about the process and some of the wording. I also hear quite clearly from him that he is very supportive of the essence of this motion, so I do not think we have a problem.

I am pleased that Ms Dundas amended her motion after we requested her to reflect the collaborative way nurse practitioners will work with general practitioners. It is important that we stress this collaborative relationship, because there is a fear from general practitioners that nurse practitioners are trying to replace them. But as the two examples I have given here show, this is really not the point. It is about improving our health care system by recognising some of the work that nurses already do and by enabling the specialist advanced-practice nurse-through extra training, accreditation and standards-to enhance our overall health care system.

Accreditation and registration systems, which we do not yet have here, ensure that only qualified nurse practitioners may call themselves that. The only acceptable meaning of nurse practitioner will be as the Nurses Board understands and accredits it.

Ms Dundas has specified in her motion that the Assembly would like the scope of an ACT nurse practitioner system to be similar to that in New South Wales. This is an important point. It is to emphasise that we recognise the utility of nurse practitioners being able to prescribe certain medicines in their field of expertise and to have a level of autonomy in their field of expertise.

Nurses are an important part of health care and always have been. This next step will provide a better career path for nurses and help to develop our health care system at a time when we need it. This could also show us the way to better accept midwife practitioners in our health system. Some members of the medical profession are reluctant to acknowledge the capacity for enhancing delivery of health services by supporting nurses who have the skills to make an extra contribution.

Obviously the government will need to take into account the evidence in the report and to consult to develop understanding of the nurse practitioner role in the health care community, including in the community services, and to finetune the model, which is what Mr Stanhope no doubt will do when he sees the final report.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (11.33): I seek leave to move the amendment circulated in my name.

Leave granted.

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