The move was outlined in a 12-week consultation launched by the Home Office, the DoH and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
Currently, nurses can prescribe 12 CDs independently, including diamorphine and morphine, for specified medical conditions.
The consultation proposes five options for updating prescribing laws, including allowing nurses to prescribe almost all CDs for any medical condition. The document also asks if nurses should be allowed to apply for a Home Office licence to prescribe cocaine, diamorphine or dipapanone for the management of addiction Ð a task only authorised doctors can carry out at present.
Meanwhile, a second consultation launched by the MHRA proposes to change legislation governing the supply and administration of pain relief through morphine and diamorphine by nurses under patient group directions. (PGD).
At present nurses working under a PGD can only supply diamorphine for cardiac pain in A&E and coronary care units. But the proposals suggest changing the locations and circumstances in which they can supply or administer these medicines for pain relief.
Professor Matt Griffiths, RCN joint prescribing and medicines management adviser, welcomed the consultations and said extending the scope of where PGDs could be used would benefit patient care: ÔWe have been lobbying for this for some time.Õ He added that nurses working in substance misuse were specialists in their field and questioned why they had to rely on supplementary prescribing to treat their patients.