Nurse Prescribing: for the public

Prescribing by other professionals has been increasing over the past 15 years –dentists, optometrists, midwives and nurse practitioners all have prescribing rights similar to doctors.  Some pharmacists and dietitians are also able to prescribe specified medicines.

A change in the law means that from September 2016 some registered nurses working in general practice and specialty health services who have completed additional education and training are able to apply to the Nursing Council for authorisation to prescribe within a collaborative team. 

The Council has supported this change as it believes that registered nurse prescribing will make a real difference to the health of New Zealanders by giving you greater access to the medicines you need particularly if you live in a rural area or an area without good access to health services.  It will free up doctors time in specialty clinics and general practice and allow you to be seen earlier.  Registered nurses already work with patients with chronic condition such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease.  This change will enable you to see a nurse without having to then see a doctor to get the prescription you need.

Nurses who prescribe will be working in teams in general practice, outpatient clinics, family planning, sexual health services, and in the community.  They will be able to consult a doctor or nurse practitioner when they need advice on your health concerns or treatment.

They can prescribe from a restricted list of medicines for diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, anxiety, depression, heart failure, gout, palliative care, contraception, vaccines, common skin conditions and infections and for minor ailments such as constipation and dry eyes.

A trial of diabetes registered nurse prescribing in New Zealand found it was safe, clinically appropriate and well received by patients and doctors. The Council expects that the number of registered nurses prescribers will be small and that it will grow over time. 

You can check the on-line registered to check if a nurse has prescribing rights.  This is also shown on their practising certificate.

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