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Call to tackle barriers to nurse prescribing in care homes

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Care homes have for “far too long” been without nurse prescribers and more should be done to bring these skills into the sector, an association representing independent care providers has said.

Due to a lack of funding and training opportunities, care home nurses are unable to “upskill” in the same way NHS nurses can, said Sharon Blackburn, communications and policy director at the National Care Forum.

This means residents are potentially missing out on quicker access to medicines and improved care planning from a nurse who could review their needs on an ongoing basis, she said.

“For far too long we haven’t had nurse prescribers in adult social care – we could do”

Sharon Blackburn

Speaking during a session at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit in Birmingham this week, Ms Blackburn said while there was a shortage of nurses in the sector, the problems could not be solved just through a “numbers game”.

“Although we will make a stand for nurses coming to train and try and get more funding, we also have to work now and think creatively about different roles for nurses,” she told delegates.

“For far too long we haven’t had nurse prescribers in adult social care – we could do. Having wellbeing nurse practitioners – we could [have them too],” said Ms Blackburn.

“It is not about a numbers game, it is about nurses retaining their accountability and using their knowledge, skill and expertise for assessment, care planning and coordination of services,” she added.

“It is not about a numbers game, it is about nurses retaining their accountability and using their knowledge, skill and expertise”

 Sharon Blackburn

Ms Blackburn later told Nursing Times that it was currently unclear how nurse prescribers in adult social care would be supported in training and in practice.

She said she wanted to see work done exploring the possibility of clinical commissioning groups funding training.

”I think there is a real opportunity for nurse prescribers in our sector,” she said. “The barriers are we don’t have access to the training, what’s the funding mechanism and then do they [nurse prescribers] have to be covered by a GP? What’s the protocol?” 

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