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Legislation to give nurses same prescribing powers as doctors


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.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • I am a Nursing Officer and Specialist Nurse (Clinical Nutrition) working in Malta. I would like to undertake this specialist degree level course leading to a nurse prescriber. Can any guide me in this please?

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  • Brilliant news

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  • There can be risk in it too!!! well with specialists qualification.....should be ok but careful supervision

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  • I am a nurse prescriber and am pleased with this news.Non medical prescribing provides better access to medicines for our patients, and enables nurse autonomy. Nurses working in specialist areas of practice have more knowledge and insight into managing conditions than perhaps the doctors working with them. I for one am pleased !

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  • what knowledge do doctors have of all the drugs? I was once asked by one staring at his computer screen if I had prostate problems! Surely my notes should tell him my gender and if he had looked at me it would have been fairly obvious. besides it was by no means my first visit and in fact I was hospitalised on his ward and talked to him daily!

    I suppose we all make mistakes and even a few howlers at some stage in our careers. I have contributed my share too.

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  • I need to read the full leglislative changes but at first glance this is most welcome.

    Independent prescribers have been excluded from providing intra-nasal diamorphine for children with painful extremity injuries, the most appropiate route of administration and evidenced as best practice. Instead independent prescribers have needed to obtain intra-venous access in order to provide initial adequate analgesia to this vulnerable. group.

    I really hope that the legislative changes incorporate this important aspect of patient care.

    Mike Paynter

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