ASHM welcomes the recent recommendation from the PBAC to endorse authorised Nurse Practitioners (NP) to prescribe hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV medicines under the Highly Specialised Drugs (HSD) program. The PBAC recommendation states: Prescriber eligibility requirements currently in place for the relevant medicines under the National Health (Highly specialised drugs program) Special Arrangement 2010 will be extended to NPs, including the accreditation and/or state or territory approval requirements.
What does this change mean?
NPs experienced in the care and management of people living with HIV and hepatitis B in the community and hepatitis C in corrective services settings will be eligible to prescribe s100 medicines within their scope of practice and in accordance with their individual employment agreements.
ASHM is currently seeking clarity on how and when the change will come into effect. ASHM will be seeking guidance from state and territory Departments of Health to determine how best to implement the change to HIV and hepatitis B prescribing in practice, including training, endorsement and ongoing continuing professional development for NPs who complete the requirements for s100 accreditation. It is envisaged that NPs will adopt the same rigorous processes required for GP s100 prescriber accreditation for HIV and hepatitis B.
Consultation with relevant jurisdictional Departments of Justice and/or Departments of Health will also occur to determine processes required for NPs working in corrective services settings to prescribe hepatitis C medicines within their scope of practice.
ASHM will promote upcoming HIV and Hepatitis B s100 Prescriber courses and Hepatitis C New Treatments courses to NPs in all states and territories when they are scheduled. Please visit the ASHM training calendar if you would like to review current and future training opportunities.
Please take this opportunity to join ASHM, renew your ASHM membership or update your membership details to ensure that you receive information about upcoming relevant training and events. You can find more information on the ASHM membership page via the ASHM website.
ASHM would like to acknowledge the following organisations who provided feedback and support to the initial PBAC submission and also the many NPs and ASHM staff who have dedicated time over many years to advocate for this significant change in NP prescribing and community access to medicines.
ASHM Vice President and Nurse Practitioner Penny Kenchington shares her views on the recent PBAC recommendation:
Australian NPs working in the HIV and Hepatitis sectors received a welcome new year present with the announcement that the PBAC has endorsed changes to the National Health (Highly Specialised Drugs Program) to allow NP prescribing of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C treatments under this program. Currently NPs prescribe HIV PrEP and hepatitis C treatment under the s85 (community prescribing) program.
Enabling NPs to prescribe these medications is a huge change in accessing medications for many clients, especially those in rural and remote areas, the homeless, the disenfranchised community and those incarcerated, where s100 GPs or consultants are scarce or not available at all.
It is also a longed-for change to enable highly skilled NPs in this health sector to work to their fullest potential possible. Removing the s100 prescribing restrictions will allow for more holistic and timely care for our clients who we have known and built relationships with over many years.
Over the coming months ASHM will provide advice regarding progressing professional development for NPs with their HIV and Hepatitis B Prescriber courses and Hepatitis C New Treatments courses. In the meantime, all NPs should have a prescriber number and if one is required please fill in this form to get one as soon as possible. You can also read about the NP role on the PBS website and the “How-to” prescribe if you are not familiar with the process.