The government of the Virgin Islands is seeking to amend current legislation to allow for the registering and licensing of nurses and midwives within the territory.
Minister for Health Carvin Malone said this amendment was brought forward to bring the territory in line with regional and international guidelines for nursing and midwifery.
The amendment, which is titled the Nurses and Midwives Bill, will involve the regularising of other categories of nurses. It also promises to make allowances for the registration of advanced practice nurses as well as separating processes of registration and licensure and providing for different dental councils as the territory moves to re-engineer primary healthcare.
According to the minister, advanced practise nurses will be poised to offer services in the areas of vaccination, counselling, maternal and child health and chronic disease management locally.
He said: “Many of our local nurses are educated at the advanced level and may like to return home to contribute, however, not being able to register, to license and practice at the advanced levels makes the prospect unattractive to most.”
“This process makes it possible to register and license advanced practice nurses, enabling them to practice at the upper level of their training and skills and the territory can only benefit,” he added.
Advanced practise nurses include registered nurse practitioners, registered nurse anesthesiologists, clinical nurse specialists, registered public health nurses.
Certification/regulation of assistive nursing personnel
Malone also said the Bill will provide for the certification/regulation of assistive nursing personnel.
“These are persons who practice in the community and perform some nursing tasks without any regulation. The nurses and midwife council will now be charged with the regulation of these categories of staff, ensuring that they are certified to perform safely,” he stated.
The groups of assistive nursing personnel include the licensed practice nurse, the nursing assistant, the nurse technician, nurses aid, patient care assistant, and patient care technician.
Council to select educational programmes in nursing
The amended legislation according to the health minister will allow for the Nursing and Midwifery Council to consult on the establishment of educational programmes in nursing.
He said this measure ensures that training is linked to registration and licensure and that the standard of practice is consistent to the benchmarks set by the council for safe practice.
“The council will assist with educational institutions, hospitals, persons or organisations on matters pertaining to nursing, midwifery and assistive nursing education, training and practice, and to assist nursing schools and other educational institutions when requested in the development of curricular for nursing education,” Malone said.
“This will correct the current gap where persons trained at our local college will be considered for registration, certification by the council, opening up employment and possibilities to them at a wider scale,” he explained.
The Bill further provides for the conduct of disciplinary proceedings.
The Nurses and Midwives Bill 2020 is presently before the House of Assembly’s Special Select Committee where it is being assessed clause by clause.
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