A series of bills updating how medicine is practised in the Virgin Islands is going through the House of Assembly with the ultimate goal of improving medical services offered here, according to Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone.

The latest, which passed the House of Assembly on Tuesday, regulates the licensing, practice and discipline of nursing and midwifery in the territory.

The Nurses and Midwives Act 2020 came for a first reading in the House on July 21. It would replace the 2009 version of the act, which requires practitioners to comply with a code of ethics through the VI Nurses and Midwives Council.

Among other new provisions, the updated legislation details the requirements for someone to be classified as “assistive nursing personnel,” which include completing an approved course of training and being enrolled and licensed to practise assistive nursing under the act. The 2009 act only specified the differences between a registered midwife, registered nurse, enrolled nursing assistant and “other nurse.”

Per the new bill, the council would have to keep track of specific details about a nurse or assistive nursing personnel’s qualifications, and the specific clinical environment where “advanced practice registered nurses” are licensed to work. These nurses would need to work under the supervision or direction of a registered health care professional.

The bill also details what information applicants would have to provide when seeking registration as a nurse or midwife, and it provides a framework for disciplinary proceedings for complaints about professional misconduct.

Mr. Malone said when bringing the bill for second and third readings last Thursday that nursing personnel are often the first line of direct patient care, and as a major component of overall health care delivery it is important to have updated laws in place to guide the profession.

The bill now awaits assent from the governor before becoming law.