Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network (the Network) Hepatology Nurse Practitioner, Tracey Jones, has become the first Australian nurse to be awarded the Associate Fellow designation from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. 

The award recognises clinical excellence and significant contribution to the field of liver disease.

Ms Jones said she was feeling incredibly proud to be recognised in this way.

“I feel deeply honoured by the award and recognition of what has been a driving passion of mine for many years,” Ms Jones said.

Ms Jones is no stranger to ‘firsts’. She was the first hepatology nurse practitioner in NSW; first President of the Australasian Hepatology Association Inc (the peak body representing nurses in the hepatology sector across Australia and New Zealand); and the Network’s first hepatology nurse practitioner, joining the organisation in mid-2019.

Network Chief Executive, Gary Forrest, said Ms Jones has been an asset to the Network and its patients.

“Together with the Network’s public sexual health nurses, Ms Jones provides clinical leadership and mentoring to Network staff to support the care of patients with advanced liver disease, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and other viral infections,” Mr Forrest said. “Most recently, Tracey has also been supporting the Network’s response to COVID-19.”

In yet another first, Ms Jones has now become the first nurse practitioner in NSW to write a hepatitis C s100 script in the correctional setting. Ms Jones said this is a significant bonus to the Network, made possible by a change to the PBS legislation in April this year.

“The change affirms the clinical expertise of nurse practitioners and will help the delivery of care to those in custody in NSW,” Ms Jones said.

Those in custody experience higher rates of chronic and complex health conditions compared to the broader population, with about 20 per cent living with hepatitis C compared to just one per cent of people in the community.

“I have tested the systems and confirmed it can be accomplished. All Network nurse practitioners are eligible to prescribe s100 medications if it is appropriate to their scope of practice.”​