GPC warning over nurse prescribing freedoms

Plans to remove all restrictions on prescribing by nurses and pharmacists could see nurses used as a 'cheaper alternative to doctors', the GPC has warned.

Richard Vautrey
Richard Vautrey

Nurse independent prescribers can currently prescribe 12 controlled drugs for specified medical conditions.

But plans to give them more freedom are working their way through parliament, and could be agreed as early as next month. 

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy GPC chairman, said that doctors' support for the plan would depend on ‘which nurses prescribe which drugs'.

‘The key thing is that they're within their competency and don't feel pressured into prescribing outside their experience or training,' he said. 

‘We'd be concerned if the NHS began employing nurses as a cheaper alternative to doctors, and expected them to prescribe from the full range of medicines. It would put nurses in a very difficult situation.' 

Prescribing experts have warned that the training available for nurses is patchy and must be improved if safety is to be maintained.

The plan involves amendments to two bills, the Prescription Only Medicines (Human Use) Order 1997, and the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

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