Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2120 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
Mr Speaker, the bill amends the Nurses Act 1988 to include the term "nurse practitioner", as well as making a number of other technical changes. I suspect all of us will welcome the term "nurse practitioner"appearing in this bill.
The current Nurses Act provides for the registration and enrolment of nurses, the supervision of nursing education and standards, and related purposes. As it stands, the act does not refer to nurse practitioners. Hence it is necessary to amend the act so it recognises and protects the role and title of "nurse practitioner", as well as accrediting any postgraduate nurse practitioner courses.
The opposition is pleased to see that the government is making progress on this project. The project was started by the former Health Minister, Michael Moore, and the nurse practitioner project was successful. If I had a complaint, it would be about the timing of this process. It seems like an eternity since the trial was started, the evaluation completed, and the legislation arrived here in the house. The report went to the then Health Minister on 27 September 2002. It has taken nearly nine months to get to this fairly basic stage.
That being said, as we are at this fairly basic stage, it will take some time yet before we will have nurse practitioners working in the ACT. I would encourage the minister to move ahead with the implementation of the accreditation of nurse practitioners in the ACT. The opposition will be supporting the bill.
MRS CROSS(12.02): I rise to support this important bill. There is constant debate in the community about the role of the general practitioner-especially about the shortage of doctors in rural and remote areas.
In Canberra, when we speak of rural and remote, we think of Mr Smyth's electorate of Tuggeranong or Mr Speaker's electorate of the northlands of Ginninderra. In addition to those rural and remote areas, the role of the nurse practitioner is limited only by imagination, education and legislation.
In his tabling speech, the minister drew attention to national and international trends in the role of the nurse practitioner. We expect that, over the next few decades, the role will be found in health centres, GP practices, hospitals and many areas of our health system.
I am surprised that the minister did not give credit where it was due. I know he appreciates it when I recognise what the government has achieved, as I have in many of my speeches. The most recent example of that was earlier this week with regard to the Select Committee on Estimates report, where I covered a range of positive achievements. Therefore, Minister-through you, Mr Speaker-I am surprised that you did not give credit to the previous government, which ran the successful nurse practitioner trial in the first place. I would have thought failure to acknowledge that contribution was a tad unstatesmanlike-politically distasteful, really.
The University of Canberra's School of Nursing is in an excellent position to provide appropriate education for those who wish to become nurse practitioners in our community. This legislation facilitates the provision of that education. I am sure it will