Nurse and pharmacist prescribing powers extended
Nov 11, 2005 - 12:51:38 AM

Patients will be able to get quicker and more efficient access to medicines thanks to extensions to nurse and pharmacist prescribing announced today by Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt at the Chief Nursing Officer’s conference in London.

From spring 2006, qualified Extended Formulary nurse prescribers and pharmacist independent prescribers will be able to prescribe any licensed medicine for any medical condition – with the exception of controlled drugs.

The extension means that specialist nurses running diabetes and coronary heart disease clinics will be able to prescribe independently for their patients. Pharmacists will be able to prescribe independently for the local community; for example, controlling high blood pressure, smoking cessation, diabetes, etc. This will take pressure off GPs, allowing them to focus on more complex cases and improving the availability of care for patients.

Patricia Hewitt said:

"Extending prescribing responsibilities is an important part of our commitment to modernise the NHS. By expanding traditional prescribing roles, patients can more easily access the medicines they need from an increased number of highly trained health professionals.

“Today’s announcement means that the young person wanting to control their asthma or the terminally ill patient being cared for at home by a multi-disciplinary healthcare team will soon find it easier and more convenient to get the medicines they need. This is another step towards a truly patient-led NHS, giving patients the power to choose where and by whom they are treated. “

Chief Nursing Officer Christine Beasley said:

“Nurses are the biggest single staff group in the NHS and they have already demonstrated that they are safe, careful and professional prescribers. Pharmacists have wide knowledge of medicines and the effects they have on people. This knowledge is invaluable to their colleagues and to patients. Today’s announcement demonstrates our confidence in nurses and pharmacists and our wish to use their skills and professionalism to the full.

“With these extended prescribing powers, nurses and pharmacists will be able to improve choice for patients and enable more flexible team working within the NHS.

“And, as nurses and pharmacists undergo rigorous training before being able to prescribe, patients can be confident that they are receiving the safest, best possible care.”

Head of Pharmacy Jeannette Howe, said:

"This is a major step forward in providing care that is more responsive to the needs of patients and the public. It is ground-breaking for the pharmacy profession. As independent prescribers, pharmacists will fully use their expertise in medicines, in partnership with patients and other members of the health care team."

Nurses and pharmacists will be able to undertake these roles once they have successfully completed the relevant training courses accredited by their respective regulatory bodies and had these qualifications noted on the professional register. Once trained, they will be required to keep their skills up to date. Employers will allow nurses and pharmacists to prescribe once they are satisfied that they have appropriate registration and have all the skills and competencies relevant to the clinical area in which they will be prescribing.

Nurse and pharmacist prescribers will have to work within their employers’ clinical governance frameworks and they will be accountable to both their employers and their regulatory bodies for their actions.

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