Nurses and midwives will be able to provide consultations

Under an initiative of the Ministry of Health, from 2024, a family doctor or another member of the family doctor's team in charge of patient registration will be able to refer patients to a nurse or midwife after assessing the reason for the referral.

"Self-consultations are an opportunity for nurses and midwives to exercise their competences, to provide advice, prescribe tests, comment on test results, discuss self-monitoring measures, and discuss the specifics of medication. It is also a tool to reduce the administrative burden on family doctors", says Artūras Šimkus, Advisor to the Nursing and Long-term Care Unit of the Personal Health Department of the Ministry of Health.

He says that reducing the administrative workload of family doctors will improve access to services: "Some patients will be consulted by nurses on behalf of the doctor. This will reduce queues and help patients get the services they need faster."

Expanding nurses' competences

From 1 January 2024, as part of a broadening of competences, nurses will be entrusted with tasks that do not require additional diagnosis or treatment. In addition to consultations and tests, nurses will also take care of vaccinations, renewing prescriptions in cases where a doctor has already prescribed a treatment, chosen the right medicine, and set the dose and frequency of administration.

According to Asta Kolajanskienė, a general nurse at Kaunas City Polyclinic, the expansion of nurses' competences will be of full benefit: "By answering patients' questions, we help not only the patient but also the family doctor, reducing part of their workload, which has been very heavy recently," the nurse noted.

"As I work in a GP team, my job description will change minimally. However, we are already discussing how we will redistribute the work appropriately in order to achieve even better teamwork results."

Midwives will counsel pregnant women

According to A. Šimkus, a representative of the Ministry, the main activity of midwives will be the care of pregnant women when the pregnancy is uncomplicated and its course is normal. "Instead of consulting a family doctor, a pregnant woman will periodically visit a midwife. The obstetrician, within the limits of his/her competence, will prescribe the necessary examinations, monitor the course of the pregnancy, answer any questions the pregnant woman may have, and issue a referral for a consultation with an obstetrician-gynaecologist in accordance with the pre-established procedure," said Šimkus.

He added that the procedure for making referrals will also change: "It will be defined to which specialists the obstetrician or nurse can refer the patient. They will then be able to make referrals for the necessary personal healthcare services if necessary."