More Hawke’s Bay nurses now able to prescribe while working in the community

More nurses can now prescribe medicine while working in the community, providing better access to healthcare in Hawke’s Bay, thanks to a new registered nurse prescribing programme.

Twenty-five registered nurses graduated from the Registered Nurse Prescribing in Community Health programme this week.

The Nursing Council of New Zealand last year endorsed Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand to run Hawke’s Bay’s inaugural programme.

Chief Nursing Officer at Te Whatu Ora Hawke’s Bay Karyn Bousfield-Black was proud Hawke’s Bay was one of the first districts around the motu to offer the programme.

Counties Manukau was the first to pilot it in 2017.

It equips registered nurses to prescribe from a list of about 80 medications for contraception and sexual health, infections (ear, throat, skin etc.), eczema, headlice, rheumatic fever and other conditions. Registered nurses must have at least three years’ experience in their role to enrol.

The participants worked for a variety of employers including Te Whatu Ora, general practices or other community healthcare organisations. They were supported by a clinical programme lead from Te Whatu Ora and the Primary Health Organisation, Health Hawke’s Bay.

Mrs Bousfield-Black says this programme provides another way for registered nurses to become prescribers thanks to the support of clinical supervisors in primary and secondary care. Other pathways include postgraduate study to become a nurse practitioner or registered nurse prescribing in primary care and specialty teams.

“Registered nurses are already experienced nurses by the time they introduce prescribing into their practice, and the data shows that nurses are careful and safe prescribers. As they have the broadest scope and largest reach into the community it’s a great use of registered nurses to provide care alongside other prescribing clinicians in integrated teams.

“Most importantly, having more prescribers working in the community increases access and gives whānau more immediate access to needed medication,” Mrs Bousfield-Black says.

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