Nurses must be allowed to prescribe say unions

Unions have warned that the freedom of independent nurse prescribing is under threat from PCTs and trusts drawing up their own rules for nurse prescribers.

Unions demand that trusts let nurses use prescribing skills
Unions demand that trusts let nurses use prescribing skills
At the Unison conference in Brighton last week, a mental health nurse in West Sussex, Sue Burns, called for national guidelines to prevent trusts forcing nurses to meet extra standards before allowing them to prescribe independently.

Ms Burns said that although she had completed the independent nurse prescribing course she was still unable to prescribe except under the close supervision of a doctor.

'They tell me it is because of my lack of experience but I would challenge that because I've had 22 years experience in the NHS.'

She said her trust was also forcing nurses to undertake four extra modules of education set at masters level before considering them ready to prescribe independently.

'From what I've heard I don't think this is limited to my trust. I think this is widespread across the UK.'

The conference passed the motion overwhelmingly.

Barbara Stuttle, chair of the Association for Nurse Prescribing, agreed the problem was widespread but felt it was more prevalent in mental health and hospitals than primary care.

'This is absolute nonsense. There is already guidance from the DoH and the NMC, both of whom have decided that the 26-day course with the 12 days of mentoring is sufficient. These are not junior nurses and almost all prescribers have been shown to have more than 15 years experience in their clinical area.'

RCN prescribing adviser Matt Griffiths agreed. While he welcomed trusts funding further education for nurse prescribers he felt it should be under the umbrella of continuing professional development and individually tailored for each prescriber.

'Trusts should not be imposing this general raising of the bar for all non-medical prescribers in their area.'

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