The term 'authorised midwife' is defined in the Regulations as a registered midwife whose registration is endorsed under section 94 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. For more details, refer to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia website and the endorsement 'Eligible Midwife – Prescribe Scheduled Medicines'.
In addition to the authorisation applicable to other midwives, an authorised midwife is authorised to obtain, possess, use, supply or prescribe medicines in Schedules 2, 3, 4 or 8 that are ‘approved by the Minister’ (for Health) in the lawful practice of his or her profession as an authorised midwife (section 13 of the Act). This authorisation does not extend to:
- activities unrelated to his or her endorsed practice
- supplying medicines that have been prescribed by another registered health practitioner (e.g. for self, spouse or employees); that is the role of a pharmacist
- supplying scheduled poisons by wholesale, an activity that requires a wholesale licence.
An authorised midwife’s scope of practice will be supported by an employer’s clinical governance framework and will be guided by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s professional practice framework, which details how professional decision-making within a sound risk management, professional, regulatory and legislative framework is to be managed.
In general, regulatory requirements are applicable to each authorised midwife but the circumstances of employment need to be considered to ensure compliance with the regulations.
Hospitals (and some other health services providers) are authorised to possess and use scheduled medicines in accordance with the conditions of a Health Services Permit (HSP) and related documents that are specific to each permit holder and will contain details relating to the manner in which medicines are to be obtained, stored, used, recorded and destroyed.
In some cases, the HSP and related documents will contain requirements that are more specific or additional to regulatory requirements that relate, in general, to authorised midwives. The current version of these documents, which is commonly controlled by the Director of Nursing or Director of Pharmacy, should be available for perusal by relevant staff; in some cases, it is available on a hospital’s intranet.
However, if an authorised midwife is not practising under the auspices of a health services provider, issues relating to the manner in which scheduled medicines are obtained, possessed, used, recorded and destroyed will be the sole responsibility of the authorised midwife to whom the medicines are supplied.
Approved List of scheduled medicines
The Minister (for Health) has approved a list of a Schedule 2, 3, 4 and 8 medicines for authorised midwives for the management of women and their infants in the prenatal, and post-natal stages of pregnancy and birth. Note: Some of the listed medicines are only approved for use for the purposes of an emergency or intrapartum purposes.
Note: In the event of an inconsistency, between the Approved List and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s prescribing formulary, the (gazetted) Approved List represents the lawful situation in Victoria.
A link to the Approved List, which identifies specific substances and classes of scheduled medicines, is located below.
The list of Schedule 2, 3, 4 and 8 poisons approved by the Minister for Health for the purposes of section 13(1)(bc) of the Act for Authorised Midwives was published in Victoria Government Gazette No. S 410 on Friday 30 November 2012.
Safe, lawful and appropriate treatment
In addition to the requirement to ensure treatment is lawful, authorised midwives are required to meet professional standards that are contained in other legislation and that are determined by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.
Authorised midwives must not issue a prescription or otherwise authorise treatment without satisfying themselves that it is safe, appropriate and lawful to treat the patient with the medication. Issuing a prescription or otherwise authorising treatment, simply because another practitioner has done so, is unlikely to satisfy the regulatory requirement to take 'all reasonable steps' to ensure there is a therapeutic need.
This website contains a range of documents, in the section for documents to print or download, which summarise the legislative requirements and issues that relate to all registered nurses and midwives, including one document that is specific to nurse practitioners (see below).
Nurses and midwives
In addition to the preceding documents, which are intended primarily for nurses and midwives, the following documents contain information that relates to multiple categories of health practitioner:
Matters that relate to many health practitioners