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Nurse prescribers have 'come of age' and are now essential


Nurse prescribing has “come of age” and will be recognised as essential for future models of care, but those in the role should not resist other professions joining, according to a former senior nurse.

Teresa Kearney recently retired from her role as an independent prescriber and as director of primary care development at South Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust.

“These kind of roles as prescribers will become essential”

Teresa Kearney

She said nurse prescribers would be vital for the autonomous, advanced practice that clinicians are expected to carry out in the coming years.

She referred to NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View, published last autumn, which sets out plans to shift care away from hospitals and into the community and to ensure better integration of health and social care.

“We have come of age,” she said. “We have got to a stage in our evolution where fundamentally the role of the prescriber, no matter what clinical role, is absolutely essential.

“Why? Because will be completing episodes of care in more remote places, with more autonomy and with more advanced practice than we have ever had historically,” she told a Healthcare Conferences UK event earlier this week.

However, she warned clinicians must not be averse to other professions becoming non-medical prescribers as well.

Ms Kearney highlighted an ongoing NHS England consultation that could allow radiographers, paramedics, dieticians and orthoptists to prescribe mediation in the future.

She said: “In terms of how we deliver care in the future, these kind of roles as prescribers will become essential.

“We cannot become protectionist,” she said. “Because what we have to think of is where the patient is.”

Ms Kearney said that despite the fact the numbers had grown steadily since the role was introduced in the 90s, it was still sometimes “challenging” to do the job because nurse prescribers felt like the “vanguard without the army”.

She noted that most nurse prescribers tended to be older and more experienced.

She suggested the lack of a younger workforce could cause problems over the next 20 years unless they embraced the five-year plan and new non medical prescribers.


Readers' comments (4)

  • michael stone

    'Ms Kearney highlighted an ongoing NHS England consultation that could allow radiographers, paramedics, dieticians and orthoptists to prescribe mediation in the future.'

    There is a definite argument that 999 Paramedics should be allowed to 'prescribe/supply' medication during end-of-life care if out-of-hours services have screwed up, and are leaving patients in pain overnight: this type of thing does sometimes happen with OOH, and sometimes family carers are driven by desperation to call 999. A few years ago, if you called 999 at 10 pm, because you wouldn't be getting any help from OOH/GP until the next morning (and OOH/GP were not responding to your calls for help), paramedics could only supply pain relief which lasted for about 2 hours: 12 or 24 hours, which should give OOH/GP long enough to get their act together, would be much better for pain relief provided by the 999 Services, in those circumstances.

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  • how often do we hear that nurses shoulodnt be educated, never mind have a degree so I would imagine thepublic wouldn't want nurses to be prescribers, they just want glorified maids

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  • michael stone

    I think the public probably want prescriptions that work, and are prescribed as quickly as possible - if nurses can do that, why should the public object ?

    It might require a bit of an 'attitude shift' on the part of the public - but if nurses are prescribing within their 'expert role' I think the public would be happy. If I was being treated for a pressure ulcer by a DN who said 'I do 2 or 3 a week of these, and I've been doing that for 5 years', wouldn't most of the public probably be happier with the nurse, than with a newly-qualified doctor who had hardly ever treated a pressure ulcer ?

    This isn't to my mind the same debate as 'must all nurses be degree-only'.

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  • We have still not come of age, we still cant independantly order "stock" drugs unlike doctors and dentists.

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