The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is moving to expand the rights of nurses to write prescriptions to cover drugs such as allergy and asthma medication as well as the right to renew prescriptions needed for some chronic illnesses, according to newspaper Uutissuomalainen.
"The expansion [of rights] with respect to pain medication would only apply when a doctor has previously made a diagnosis and prescribed the medicine," explained Marjukka Vallimies-Patomäki, a ministerial counsellor.
So far some 364 nurses have had prescription training in Finland. New legislation allowing nurses to issue prescriptions came into force in 2010, and the first so-called prescription nurses completed their training in 2012. The training accounts for 45 credits in nursing training.
FMA: Nurses should not encroach on doctors' turf
The latest legal amendment proposes expanding those rights to include home care nurses and specialist nurses in polyclinics. The limited right to write prescriptions has been taken into use in open care facilities as health centres, at maternity clinics, school and student healthcare centres, at occupational health facilities and at accident and emergency stations.
The proposed legislative amendment will be sent out for commenting early next year, according to the paper.
Doctors union the Finnish Medical Association says it opposes the proposed changes. The union said that even nurses’ current rights to write prescriptions should be scaled back, especially in cases where a prescription requires a diagnosis of an ailment.
"We see that the work of nurses and public healthcare workers is strongest when it comes to interacting with patients, getting information about their backgrounds and providing guidance on lifestyle. This is where we should use nursing resources, not on encroaching on doctors’ territory," said Kati Myllymäki, head of the medical association.