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Unqualified nurses issuing scripts

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Practice nurses are being asked to undertake roles for which they have not been adequately trained, a major survey has suggested.

Some nurses are prescribing without a proper qualification, according to the online survey by the Working In Partnership Programme (WiPP).

Although 29% of 1,161 respondents said that prescribing was part of their role, only 13% had received the necessary training.

WiPP, an advisory group set up in 2004 to support general practice, found that only 52% of nurses working in management of long-term conditions had diabetes diplomas and half of those in women’s health had no family planning certificate.

Additionally, almost one in 10 nurses said they had no access to mandatory training, such as in anaphylaxis. Likewise, one in 10 did not have their terms and conditions set out in an employment contract.

As a result, WiPP has drawn up a series of standards of employment aimed at GPs which call for employment contracts for all, pay to be linked to Agenda for Change and appropriate levels of training to be provided.

Kate Howie, RCN practice nurse forum chairperson, said: ‘It’s good to have the results in such detail as evidence to say to GPs “this is not acceptable”.

‘The prescribing situation is worrying. There is a huge move for nurses to undertake prescribing in primary care but they should not be doing it without the qualifications.’

Ms Howie said she sympathised with nurses who sometimes found it difficult to talk to their GP employers. But she warned: ‘We have to think about protecting ourselves and our patients, and should not do things we are not trained for.’

RCN sexual health adviser Kathy French added: ‘We hear that practice nurses do not have the right contraception training quite often but it is not because the training does not exist for them.

‘They are being privately employed by business people who won’t spend money if they can get away with it, and one day there will be a disaster.’

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