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Time to look further ahead

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VOL: 98, ISSUE: 09, PAGE NO: 47

Sarah Mulally, CNO for England

Putting the patient at the heart of the NHS and providing patients with timely access to high quality care lies behind many of the key developments in health policy.

Putting the patient at the heart of the NHS and providing patients with timely access to high quality care lies behind many of the key developments in health policy.

One of these developments is prescribing. Over the past seven years nurses and health visitors have demonstrated that they are safe, careful and professional prescribers. Monitoring has shown that their prescribing has largely substituted for GPs' prescribing: overall, costs have not increased through nurse prescribing. Early research also tells us that patients believe they benefit from their nurse's prescribing.

Now the extension of independent nurse prescribing is under way. Ten thousand additional nurse and midwife prescribers will be trained over the next three years. They will prescribe from an extended formulary that includes all the non-prescription-only medicines currently prescribable by GPs, as well as a list of around 130 prescription-only medicines.

It is time to look ahead and make further changes to traditional prescribing roles that will benefit patients in a patient-centred NHS. The Department of Health and the Medicines Control Agency will be consulting in the spring on the introduction of supplementary prescribing. I encourage you to look at the consultation document which will be available on the DoH website, www.doh.gov.uk/nurseprescribing, and contribute to your professional organisation's or specialist forum's response to it.

I would also like to emphasise the two key principles to keep in mind as you do so: that prescribing is not a right but a responsibility; and that the most important criteria for identifying nurses to train as prescribers, whether independent or supplementary, are patient safety and patient benefit. In a patient-centred NHS, there can be no other approach to the development of nurse prescribing.

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