Prescribing by non-medical healthcare professionals

Over recent years prescribing rights have been extended beyond the traditional remit of doctors and dentists to other healthcare professionals as a way to improve the quality of services to clients, whilst maintaining client safety, increasing client choice and improving access to healthcare. This is often referred to as 'non-medical prescribing'.

Prescribing rights for non-medical healthcare professionals

In South Australia non-medical prescribing in governed by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010 and the Controlled Substances Act 1984.

The provisions of the National Law have been designed to support nationally consistent scopes of prescribing practice for the non-medical professions to meet the changing demands of the health system. This includes the registration of health professionals under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS). A registration may be endorsed in relation to specific specialities and registrations of individual practitioners can also be endorsed, where applicable, in relation to certain uses of scheduled medicines and in relation to approved areas of practice.

Non-medical prescribing within SA Health

Non-medical prescribers working within the South Australian Public Sector are required to abide by SA Health policy, including policies relating to medicines and prescribing and health service requirements regarding scope of practice. Medicines should be prescribed in accordance with the relevant medicines formulary requirements and only if they are within the scope of practice of that healthcare professional.

Nurse practitioner prescribing

Nurse practitioners endorsed by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) are able to prescribe medications. Medications for prescription by a Nurse Practitioner are limited by the nurse practitioner’s scope of practice, MBS/PBS requirements, and by the relevant hospital formulary/prescribing arrangements.

Documents relevant to nurse practitioners and their practice have been revised and updated to align the governance processes for nurse practitioner roles, including prescribing, to the Governance Framework for Advanced Scope of Practice Roles and Extended Scope of Practice roles in SA Health Policy Directive (PDF 536KB). These include:

  • The Nurse Practitioner Implementation Toolkit

The Nurse Practitioner Policy Directive incorporates the requirement to ensure robust governance of nurse practitioner prescribing, including:

  • notation of approval to prescribe on the Credentialling and Scope of Clinical Practice System
  • prescribing requirements and restrictions
  • monitoring and evaluation of prescribing

Further information about nurse practitioner prescribing is available on the Nursing SA website including access to the policy directive and fact sheets which provide more information.

Prescribing PBS-listed medicines

PBS access has recently been granted to optometrists, nurse practitioners and midwives to apply for a PBS prescriber number to prescribe specific PBS-listed medicines under specified conditions: