Date Published: 10 May 2011
Report indicates strong support for nurse and pharmacist prescribing in England
A recent report prepared by health service researchers from Southampton and Keele Universities (both in England, UK) have found widespread acceptance among patients of the increased powers conferred by the government to enable specially trained nurses and pharmacists to prescribe medication in England. The researchers also deemed the prescribing practices to be safe and appropriate for the type of medical conditions being treated.
The recently published (UK) Department of Health-funded report (see details below), provides a national 'snapshot' of how successfully nurse and pharmacist prescribing is being used in primary care trusts, GP surgeries and hospitals.
" This study is the first national evaluation of independent prescribing by nurses and pharmacists since legislation in 2006 enabled nurses and pharmacists to independently prescribe across an extensive range of medicines. Our research shows that the practice is becoming a well?integrated and established means of managing a patient's condition," said Prof Latter, who led the study at Southampton University.
" We were also able to highlight areas to the government where expansion of non-medical prescribing could strengthen NHS services in order to meet health care needs of the future" she added.
The legislation gave experienced nurses and pharmacists authority to prescribe medication to patients and was considered controversial when it was introduced in 2006. Specially trained nurses and pharmacists in England can now manage all aspects of a patient's treatment including diagnosis, prescription and monitoring, without supervision by a doctor.
" Our research shows that nurse and pharmacist independent prescribers are now making a substantial contribution to patient care which is safe and of good quality," said Prof Blenkinsopp, of Keele University.
" Commissioners of healthcare can use our findings to make the most effective use of nurse and pharmacist prescribing when they are commissioning services" she added.
The report also found that:
- 86% of nurses and 71% of pharmacists are using their powers after training as a prescriber.
- Most nurses and pharmacists are prescribing in a primary care setting, with substantial numbers also in secondary care settings, such as hospitals.
- Most patients did not mind whether they received care from a nurse, pharmacist or a doctor.
- Enabling non-medical prescribing to develop further, by additional training of nurses and pharmacists to treat patients with more than one medical condition, may improve patient care and efficiency in the health service.
Anyone still concerned about this relatively new system may find some comfort in this report.
Reference to Report:
"Evaluation of nurse and pharmacist independent prescribing" by Prof. Sue Latter, Prof Alison Blenkinsopp, Alesha Smith, Steve Chapman, MichelaTinelli, Karen Gerard, Paul Little, Nicola Celino, Trudy Granby, Peter Nicholls, Gill Dorer. See http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/184777