The under pressure health system exposed by Covid-19 has opened the door for highly qualified nurses to carry out vaccinations, provide medicines and treat asthma patients and strep throat – once the sole domain of senior clinicians and GPs. But with Covid-19 cases decreasing and winter fast approaching, stringent health and medical regulations have been relaxed – allowing Waipareira frontline nurses to deliver a far greater role in the community, and act as a one stop health shop.
Waipareira CEO John Tamihere said the relaxation rules were much needed and long overdue. He said this small change will give Māori health care workers the ability to care and look after their own communities.
“Covid-19 has exposed major bottle necks and deficiencies in our health system,” Tamihere said.
“Giving nurses more delegation will benefit poorer communities and create more connectivity for Maori caught in a health system they did not fully engage with.”
Dr Kevinit Sandhu, head of the Waipareira drive through Covid-19 Clinic, said anyone suffering serious respiratory issues must still go to their GP. But patients with symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sore throat or chest infection could still come for a free COVID test. “If patients are unwell with breathing issues or a temperature, they need to contact their GP who can refer them to us if they are unable to get seen,” Dr Sandhu said.
Along with free Covid-19 testing for all west Aucklanders, Waipareira will also offer flu jabs to eligible people. That eligibility criteria includes pregnant women (any trimester), people 65 and over, under 65s with conditions, such as chronic heart disease, chronic liver, disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Children aged 4 who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness, including children under 5 years who were hospitalised with measles can also receive treatment.
Nursing staff will also administer antibiotics to patients who have a sore throat and at risk of rheumatic fever.
Ngaire Harris – clinical lead of the Whanau House Covid-19 vaccination services, and a long time nurse, said nurses should be utilised more. “Our nursing staff know our whanau, and our whanau have a real trust in them,” she said.
Tamihere said this was just a small step towards a health system that must devolve and starting to break free from a choke hold from a system developed 100 years ago. “I would also like to see pharmacists given wider delegations to prescribe certain medicines over the counter,” Tamihere said. “GPs would then be better utilised for their medical skills and knowledge.