Nurses make first prescriptions after law change

NZ nurses can now prescribe some medicines without a doctor's sign-off (File)

For the first time in New Zealand, registered nurses can now prescribe medicine to patients.

A new law allows them to write prescriptions, without the need for a doctor's signature.

Manurewa Marae registered nurse Karen Jones has been practicing for years, but she's only recently started prescribing medicine.

She's become the first registered nurse prescriber in New Zealand, after completing her Masters in Nursing and further postgraduate education.

Previously she'd needed a doctor to sign it off.

"I was doing the whole consultation," says Ms Jones. "Then the doctor would sign the prescription and I could give it back to the patient. So there's like a closure, being able to provide that prescription myself."

A new law allows suitably-trained registered nurses to prescribe for things like high blood pressure, diabetes, contraception and asthma, saving time for both doctors and patients.

Patients say it's easier and faster.

"She actually knows our background, our history, and we don't have to repeat it with all the different doctors," says Debz Lloyd-Matthews.

"I'm stoked because all I want is a better quality of life and that's what I'm getting from going through here," says Shane Matthews, "The more healthy I am, the more fishing I can do."

Ms Jones says it benefits her and the patients. "It's more rewarding in my work because I can say to people, this is what you need, and be able to give it to them."

She is the first of six nurses who are now able to write prescriptions under the new law, and more will join them in 2017.