From 1 November this year, nurse practitioners and midwives in medical practices and the community were able to provide taxpayer-subsidised services to patients outside the public system.
Previously, they could provide advanced level care, but because they couldn’t access the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), they had limited scope outside a hospital setting. This new initiative broadens and encourages the range of settings in which nurse practitioners can work, and offers patients more choice in primary health care.
Nurses and midwives must work in collaboration with medical practitioners when providing MBS services and PBS prescriptions, and are still required to act under their State’s or Territory’s legal constraints. They can, however, provide frontline services to patients who would otherwise have to see their general practitioner.
For patients this means:
- improved access to medical care and medicines;
- the ability to claim medical benefits for that care, and
- the capacity to seek care closer to home and in a wider range of settings.
For nurses it means recognition of both their extensive experience and their high level formal education. It also means they can deliver high quality care to patients, follow through and provide medicines, and claim for providing that service
There is now a new group of previously untapped prescribers for the pharmaceutical industry to consider. The challenge for medicines makers will be engaging this new group of prescribers in a meaningful and appropriate way, while remaining within the relevant Code of Conduct and considering quality use of medicines.
For the full list of medicines nurse practitioners and midwives can prescribe, visit the PBS website.