Newly qualified nurses could prescribe early in their careers, say NMC proposals

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has launched a consultation on prescribing and standards for medicines management.

Newly qualified nurses may be able to undertake training to prescribe under new proposals set out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The NMC has launched a consultation on prescribing. Picture: Charles Milligan

The NMC has launched a consultation on prescribing and medicines management as part of an overhaul of nursing education.

In March, Nursing Standard exclusively revealed that the NMC was proposing to allow newly qualified nurses to prescribe earlier in their careers.

Currently, a nurse or midwife has to be registered for two years before being eligible to undertake a community nurse prescribing programme.

The NMC is proposing that immediately after successful completion of their pre-registration nursing programme and following registration a registered nurse or midwife can complete the practice requirements of a community practitioner prescribing programme.

Gaining experience

NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said: ‘These proposals would enable nurses and midwives to build on their training and gain prescribing practice experience as soon as they qualify, rather than waiting at least two years as is currently the case.’

Under proposals, prescribing theory would be introduced into pre-registration nursing degree programmes and newly qualified nurses would be able to start a prescribing programme provided they ‘have the necessary support in place’.

Registrants will also be able to complete one year post-registration practice rather than three years to be eligible to commence a supplementary/independent prescriber programme, according to the regulator’s plans.

Nurses who prescribe would do so within the standards of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s single competency framework, the proposals state.

The regulator is considering withdrawing its standards for medicine management.

It claims that standards of medicines management should apply to all healthcare professionals rather than having separate standards set by the regulator that only apply to nurses and midwives.

Prescribing expert and independent consultant nurse Matt Griffiths welcomed the proposed changes for newly qualified nurses, but questioned plans to withdraw the standards for medicine management.

'Big mistake'

Professor Griffiths said: 'The proposed withdrawal of the standards for medicines management is (I believe) a big mistake.

'The standards do help practitioners to find what is legal and what is illegal. It helps them understand legislation on licences, off licence and unlicensed medicines and the impact that this could have on them.'

He said the average nurse spends 40% of their working day dealing with medicines and while the standards needed updating they should not be axed.

Read the consultation

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