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Guidelines Needed For Unregulated Health Workers

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Guidelines Needed For Unregulated Health Workers

Nurses want national guidelines on the use of unregulated health care workers who work in the community, including in general practices.

A professional nursing adviser with the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation (NZNO), Kate Weston says nurses support innovation in community health care but not at the expense of patient and professional safety.

"Any clinical work involving unregulated health care assistants (HCA) must be very carefully managed to protect public safety," Weston said.

TVNZ news last night featured a south Auckland general practitioner who uses a receptionist to undertake patient assessments and basic health checks and advocates that HCAs could be undertaking this role.

"Health care assistants and receptionists are unregulated. Nurses and doctors are regulated which means they work within specific scopes of practice and are bound by legislation to protect patients and the public. But these legislative protections do not apply to HCAs or receptionists," Weston said.

She called for nationally agreed standards to govern the work of HCAs in the community. The NZNO is currently working in collaboration with District Health Board New Zealand to develop national guidelines for HCAs working in hospitals.

"Guidelines for HCAs working in the community are also essential. A similar collaborative approach would work well. NZNO has the willingness and the expertise within its 2000-strong College of Primary Health Care Nurses to work with GPs and other relevant groups to help develop such guidelines. The guidelines will assure public safety," Weston said.

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