The Royal College of Nursing has welcomed the news that pharmacists and nurses will be able to prescribe the same drugs as a doctor can from April 23, including controlled drugs.
The Home Office confirmed that the legislation would come into effect later this month, five years after a consultation revealed support for these health professionals to prescribe all types of medicines.
Ministers have laid the relevant legislation to allow a greater variety of controlled drugs, with the changes coming into effect on 23 April.
This will mean that in excess of 20,000 nurse independent prescribers in the UK, who have undertaken a specialist degree level course and after rigorous assessment hold a separate registered qualification will be able to prescribe from the same list of medicines as doctors within their specialty and competence.
RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “This is an important piece of legislation which will improve patient care. Until now, the formal process of supplementary prescribing of controlled drugs has in some instances led to delays in patients receiving medicines which could have led to extended periods of pain.
“The RCN has worked hard for many years to ensure that specially qualified nurses should, as independent practitioners, be able to prescribe from the same list of medicines as doctors and our members have lobbied hard in favour of this change. We are pleased that these practitioners are going to receive the recognition they have long deserved.”