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Victorian nurse practitioners (NPs) will now be authorised to obtain, use, sell or supply (prescribe) any Schedule 2, 3, 4 or 8 medicines in the lawful practice of their profession (within the scope of practice) following changes approved by the state government.

All Australian NPs are authorised to prescribe medicines and eligible to access the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), yet Victorian NPs previously had to apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) for a notation on their registration to prescribe medicine from a certain category.

It meant NPs often needed to apply to the NMBA multiple times to prescribe medicines from additional categories, resulting in more than one notation on their registration. The complex and time-consuming process restricted Victorian NPs from working to their full scope of practice.

Late last year, consultation was undertaken to gauge support to remove the need for notations on registrations and approve a general authorisation for NPs to prescribe any Schedule 2, 3, 4 or 8 medicines. Professional peak bodies and Victorians were asked to respond to a survey regarding the safety and potential risks associated with implementing a new Ministerial approval governing Victoria’s NP prescribing rights.

The ‘Victorian Nurse Practitioner Prescribing Arrangements’ consultation determined strong support for a Ministerial approval, which removes all references to predetermined formularies and the need for an associated notation on a Victorian NPs registration.

Published in the Victorian Government Gazette, the new Ministerial approval, signed by Health Minister Jenny Mikakos this month, revoked all previous approvals governing NP prescribing in Victoria and replaced them with a single approval authorising NPs to obtain, use, sell or supply (prescribe) any Schedule 2, 3, 4, or 8 medicines in the lawful practice of their profession (scope of practice).

Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) president Leanne Boase welcomed the changes to prescribing rights.

“This is such great news for Victorian nurse practitioners and their local communities,” she said.