GPs urged to train nurses to start prescribing

More GPs should train practice nursing staff to prescribe, according to a DoH-funded study.

Nurse prescribing is working well in primary care and is viewed favourably by patients, the study found.

Researcher Professor Alison Blenkinsopp of Keele University said: 'This study shows non-medical prescribers prescribe appropriately and safely and that patients have accepted non-medical prescribers.'

Professor Blenkinsopp said all GPs should consider supervising the training of non-medical prescribers. 'Those who do not have a nurse or pharmacist prescriber should consider planning for appropriate staff to train as prescribers, providing support during their training by being a designated medical practitioner who oversees the period of supervised practice.'

Professor Blenkinsopp said more GP support was also needed for nurse prescribers who were not based in an individual practice and worked across several practices.

The study found that such nurses were more likely to experience difficulty with GP support during and after training.

The study also looked at how non-medical prescribing roles might expand.

Professor Sue Latter of the University of Southampton, who was also involved in the study, said: 'Key issues for expansion of non-medical prescribing may include preparing nurses and pharmacists to prescribe across conditions for patients with comorbidities.'

The study found that non-medical prescribing has been largely driven by individual practitioners' enthusiasm, rather than strategies for developing non-medical prescribing.

Only half of NHS organisations had a strategy for developing non-medical prescribing.

Study findings
  • Between 2 and 3 per cent of nurses and pharmacists are qualified to prescribe independently.
  • Nurses and pharmacists are predominately prescribing in primary care.
  • Most patients do not report strong preferences for either medical or non-medical prescribers.
  • Non-medical prescribing is viewed positively by other healthcare professionals.

Source: DoH report.

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