The Full Story
Legislation is to be amended to provide prescriptive rights to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said Cabinet has given approval for the issuance of drafting instructions to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel for amendments to the Nurses and Midwives Act and the Pharmacy Act to accommodate the registration and licensure of APRNs, encompassing family nurse practitioners, mental health psychiatric nurse practitioners, and nurse anaesthetists.
He made the disclosure during a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (November 21).
This development marks a crucial step towards improving healthcare accessibility, especially for Jamaicans in rural and underserved areas.
“It is also important to highlight that regarding nurse anaesthetists, the Ministry is not pursuing prescriptive authority at this time. Instead, the focus is on accommodating their licensure and registration under a legal framework, recognising the advanced training and critical role they play in patient care,” Dr. Tufton said.
The Minister said the amendments go beyond mere adjustments to Acts; they signify a dynamic evolution of the healthcare system to meet the diverse needs of the population.
“Therefore, the amendments to the Nurses and Midwives Act are multifaceted. They seek to accommodate the licensure and registration of APRNs, regulate the registration, licensure, and training of APRNs, and uphold proper standards of professional conduct among individuals registered under the Nurses and Midwives Act,” Dr. Tufton stated.
The Minister said a critical aspect of the proposed changes pertains to the Pharmacy Act.
Currently, certain provisions restrict prescriptive authority to specific categories of healthcare professionals, excluding APRNs.
“The amendments to the Pharmacy Act will address this limitation, allowing family nurse practitioners and mental health psychiatric nurse practitioners in Government Health Centres and at the University Hospital of the West Indies to prescribe approved pharmaceuticals,” Dr. Tufton said.
“These amendments are vital in addressing the pressing issue of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Jamaica,” he added.
Currently, seven out of 10 Jamaicans die from the four major NCDs – Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease.
The Minister said this alarming reality underscores the urgency of the healthcare system in adapting to meet the evolving needs of the population.
Dr. Tufton said the proposed amendments to the legislative framework are not just timely but also essential.
“Empowering APRNs with the ability to prescribe, especially in rural areas, is a significant step towards improving patient outcomes and delivering more comprehensive care,” Dr. Tufton said.
In 2021, a Committee was formed and chaired by Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer to examine the issue of granting prescriptive authority to APRNs.
This Committee engaged extensively with stakeholders, resulting in a report that has paved the way for a unique model of prescriptive authority for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, tailored to the Jamaican context.