‘Outdated’ need for collaborative arrangements finally removed for Nurse Practitioners

Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACN) CEO Leanne Boase. Photo: ACNP

The Health Legislation Amendment (Removal of Requirement for Collaborative Arrangement) Bill 2024, passed the Parliament yesterday, after being earlier introduced in March by Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney.

The landmark legislation removes barriers that have prevented NPs and endorsed midwives from prescribing medicines under the PBS and providing services under Medicare because of the requirement for a ‘collaborative arrangement’ with a medical practitioner.

“This is a critical workforce reform, which will empower nurses and midwives to utilise their full skillset, training and experience, for the benefit of those needing care and support in the community,” ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said.

“Removing old barriers like these are long overdue and means nurses and midwives will now be able to provide people across the community with better access to safe, quality care, without the need to visit a GP surgery or wait in a strained hospital ED. This has been the case in the ACT and Tasmania, where nurse-led clinics have been successful and very popular in the community.”

The Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) said the need for collaborative arrangements had been “widely misunderstood” since its introduction in 2010, and that it was pleased the Bill was unanimously supported.

“We now look forward to the next steps and removal of collaborative arrangements on 1st November this year,” ACNP CEO Leanne Boase said.

ACNP says the move marks a significant step forward in enhancing healthcare accessibility for nurse practitioners and participating midwives across Australia, dismantling barriers to healthcare, particularly in rural and remote areas, where healthcare workforce shortages and challenges in retaining healthcare professionals persist.

“The requirement for a Collaborative Arrangement has frequently been misinterpreted as a need for clinical supervision or control, when in fact it relates only to healthcare funding, it has complicated and hindered access to nurse practitioner and midwifery care for 14 years now,” Ms Boase said.

“The removal of this requirement will enhance, encourage and support true multidisciplinary collaboration, improving health outcomes. True clinical collaboration is underpinned within our education standards, and across our professional standards, including the nurse practitioner standards for practice. The requirement for a collaborative arrangement was never related to clinical collaboration, it was simply enabling access to funding, often leading to people being unable to access their Medicare and PBS entitlements. It will not increase prescribing authority, or introduce ‘independence’, we already have that.” Ms Boase added.

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