The Nursing and Midwifery Council has today launched a consultation on proposals that would potentially lead to nurses and midwives being able to prescribe much earlier in their careers.
The consultation launched today is the second of two such exercises asking the profession for its views on a radical overhaul of pre-registration training for the nurses and midwives of the future, which were unveiled by the regulator last month.
“These proposals would enable nurses… to gain prescribing practice experience as soon as they qualify”
Under the plans, more drug prescribing theory would be taught at an undergraduate level, allowing nurses to go on to train for an independent prescribing qualification within just one year of graduating, instead of the current three.
The plans outlined by the regulator in May would also, more controversially, see the withdrawal of standards for medicines management.
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The NMC wants to remove its medicines management standards – last updated in 2007 – after it was told they could be a “barrier to more contemporary medicines optimisation approaches”.
Instead, it has proposed that the new standards should be aligned with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s single competency framework for all prescribers.
“This is in line with the direction of travel of other healthcare regulators”
Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar, said: “Patients and the public often believe that the majority of nurses and midwives are already able to prescribe and many do not want to wait to see a medical prescriber.
“That’s why we are seeking views on proposals which would see nurses and midwives equipped with the skills and attributes to make them ‘prescribing ready’ at the point of qualification,” she said.
“These proposals would enable nurses and midwives to build on their training and gain prescribing practice experience as soon as they qualify, rather than waiting at least two years as is currently the case,” said Ms Smith.
Regarding the plans to withdraw standards for medicines management, she said the NMC would instead “signpost” to other organisations better placed to produce up to date guidance on safe and effective medicines management practice.
“In looking at prescribing, we also had to consider whether we are best placed to set the standards in this area,” she said. “Prescribing is a skill which crosses professional boundaries and the standards set by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society can apply across all proscribing professions.
“That’s why we think they are best placed to set the standards in this important area,” said Ms Smith.
She added: “We are also proposing that other healthcare professionals, not just to doctors, are able to support trainee nurse and midwife prescribers. This is in line with the direction of travel of other healthcare regulators.
A separate consultation was also launched by the NMC on Monday, covering draft standards for nurse and midwife proficiencies and a draft education framework for universities.
Under its plans, all students will be required to be competent in an extensive list of technical skills and have a more detailed understanding across both mental and physical health and care. It will also open up mentorship to a wider range of health professionals and increase the use of simulation over placements.
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As reported by Nursing Times, the NMC decided last month to hold two separate consultations on the plans due to the large amount of information the regulator was seeking views on and concerns among its council that just one consultation would be less accessible for people wanting to take part.
The consultation on the proposals around prescribing and standards for medicines management will run from 15 June until 14 September.
The other NMC consultation on pre-registration education standards, which was launched on 12 June, will run until 12 September.
All universities are expected to run new courses in line with the updated standards by September 2019, although some may be given the option to begin a year earlier.
- More information on both consultations, including how to take part, is available on the NMC website