Qld nurses can now prescribe medical abortion

3 minute read

New legislation also recognises newborn babies as separate patients to their mother, a move with big implications for mandatory staffing ratios.

Nurses and midwives in Queensland are now allowed to prescribe for medical termination of pregnancies up to nine weeks but will have to do specialised training first.

It’s unclear whether the state government will foot the bill for training, or what the training will entail.

Until mid-2023, any GPs who wished to prescribe mifepristone and misoprostol (MS-2 Step, MS Health Pty Ltd) had to do a mandatory online course and recertify every three years.

When these requirements were scrapped in July, nurse practitioners were also added to the pool of eligible prescribers.

Queensland is the first state to introduce legislation allowing regular nurses and midwives to prescribe the drugs.

Earlier this week, Queensland Health clarified that the nurses and midwives will “have undergone specialised training to perform medical terminations”.

It’s not clear what this training will entail and how similar it will be to the mandatory training that doctors were previously required to do.

In a separate statement, the department said access to the specialised training “will be provided to health practitioners wishing to be able to prescribe or supply MS-2 Step … in a move to support improved access and equity for women and pregnant people across Queensland”.

Again, it is not clear whether this means Queensland Health intends to pay for the training.

Some training courses for medical abortion are free of charge, while others cost up to $150 per head.

In any event, the Queensland government have committed a total $40 million toward improving access to abortion information and services in the state.

It will allegedly go toward funding the Termination of Pregnancy Action Plan 2032.

The $40 million is drawn from the Queensland Women and Girls’ Health Strategy 2032 pool of funding, which adds to a cool $1 billion.

Besides allowing nurses and midwives to prescribe medical abortions, Queensland’s new legislation also counts newborn and stillborn babies as additional patients alongside their mother.

Recognising babies as separate patients carries implications for the state’s legislated midwife-to-patient ratios, which are being rolled out across the southeast this year.

The ratios enforce a ratio of one midwife to every six patients, or three parent-baby pairs.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union secretary Sarah Beaman welcomed the legislation and said individual midwives were currently being allocated as many as 20 mothers and babies at a time.

“By having additional time, a reduced patient load, and the opportunity to deliver high-quality care, we will improve outcomes for babies, mothers, and the Queensland community,” she said.

Queensland Health did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.

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