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August 8, 2013

Another first in health innovation for the West Coast

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Grey Base Hospital Pharmacy Manager
Nick Leach

The West Coast will be one of the first regions to benefit from a law change that lets clinical pharmacists prescribe within their scope of practice. Pharmacy manager at Grey Base Hospital , Nick Leach is one of 14 pharmacists nationwide (and the only one within mental health) who have completed the new Postgraduate Certificate in pharmacist prescribing and who have registered with the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand.

"I am now able to review patients within the Mental Health inpatient unit, working with other health professionals to evaluate the effectiveness of their current medication. This allows me to adjust doses, add new medications or stop treatments. It also means a more efficient discharge process for people as I can write the discharge prescriptions," says Nick.

West Coast DHB Executive Director of Allied Health, Stella Ward says the DHB was pleased to be able to support Nick as she underwent her training. "We are now developing guidelines to implement and support pharmacy prescribing," says Stella.

The move from Clinical Pharmacist to Pharmacist Prescriber means Nick can work with patients in a collaborative team environment that will improve patient access to better integrated health services. "I trained, and have worked for years in the field of mental health medications and their side effects and now will be able to work alongside the team of doctors and nurses to review dosages and talk to patients about their medication. If the medications are not working or the patient is suffering side-effects, I'll be able to adjust the medication in conjunction with the team."

To qualify, pharmacist prescribers have to work with a Designated Medical Practitioner to supervise and mentor their training. Nick worked with West Coast District Health Board Clinical Director Mental Health Services Dr David Stoner. "I have been able to see the evolution of the role and also help Nick mould her practice to fit mental health needs. Collaborative prescribing ensures safe access to the right medication at the right time," says Dr Stoner.

Dr Stoner added he is excited about the benefits Nick's new role will have. "It opens the door for pharmacist prescribers to develop and strengthen rapport with their patients and doctors and I'm confident it will improve the quality of care patients and their families receive from mental health services."

Nick says having a pharmacist prescriber at the hospital will be significant for the West Coast community. "It means people don't have to wait for a specialist to be on site to adjust their medications, and when specialists are on site they will have more time to spend with complex patients."

She says she is looking forward to her new role. "I've always been interested in mental health medications as I've seen it as more of an art than a science, tailoring the medication to suit the patient and involving them in discussions about their medication."


For further information contact:


Erin Jamieson

Communications Team

m: 021 743 237

t: 03 769 7400

Corporate - West Coast District Health Board | Grey Base Hospital, PO Box 387, Greymouth 7840

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