Nurse practitioner: Changes coming into effect on 1 July 2014

04 June 2014

Nurse practitioner: Changes coming into effect on 1 July 2014

On 1 July 2014 changes to the Medicines Act 1981 will come into effect meaning that nurse practitioners will become authorised prescribers as are doctors, dentists, midwives and optometrists.  This change will mean that nurse practitioners will no longer be limited to a schedule of medicines and will be able to prescribe medicines relevant to their scope of practice and specific area of practice. 

Nurse practitioners have been able to prescribe under designated prescribing regulations since 2002 but have been confined to a schedule of prescription medicines.

Changes to the scope of practice and conditions on the public register

All new nurse practitioners from 1 July 2014 will have prescribing rights when they register with the Council.  The Council consulted on making nurse practitioner a prescribing scope in 2012 and is introducing these changes when Medicines Amendment Act 2013 come into force.  Previously nurse practitioners had an option whether to prescribe.  Please refer to the Gazette notice published on 29 May 2014 for changes to the nurse practitioner scope of practice and prescribed qualifications.

From 1 July 2014 prescribing nurse practitioners will not require an authorisation included in their scope of practice stating that they may prescribe. 

Instead nurse practitioners who do not have prescribing rights will have a condition in their scope of practice indicating that they may not prescribe. 

All nurse practitioners will continue to have a condition stating their area of practice.  Both the area of practice and the non-prescribing condition will be on their practising certificate and on the on-line public register available on the Council’s website.

Controlled drugs

Nurse practitioners have been able to prescribe from a list of controlled drugs with a number of restrictions.  The Ministry of Health has proposed and consulted on amending the restrictions in the Misuse of Drug Regulation to reflect nurse practitioners' prescribing authority and clinical practice.  The specific amendments outlining nurse practitioner prescribing authority will not be published until late-June. The Nursing Council will publish an update on our website when we know the outcome.

Standing Orders

The Medicines Amendment Act 2013 amends the definition of Standing Order in the Medicines Act to include nurse practitioners as health practitioners authorised to issue Standing Orders. This amendment does not in itself enable nurse practitioners to issue standing orders. Amendment to the Medicines (Standing Order) Regulations 2002 is also required. The Ministry of Health is considering how best to approach this.

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