Expert advice

Medicines management: Is it safe for newly qualified nurses to be allowed to prescribe?

Allowing newly qualified nurses to prescribe from a limited formulary could give patients safer access to medicines, says medicines management expert Matt Griffiths. 
Prescription_tile.jpg

Allowing newly qualified nurses to prescribe from a limited formulary could give patients safer access to medicines, says medicines management expert Matt Griffiths

As part of its overhaul of nursing education, the Nursing and Midwifery Council is considering allowing newly qualified nurses to prescribe from a limited formulary.

When I first heard this, I was concerned. I have pushed for nurse prescribing to be developed over the years, and was fearful of opening the floodgates to many more junior staff becoming prescribers.

But after further thought, I reviewed my position. What is being considered is a limited formulary, so why shouldn't newly qualified staff have limited prescribing rights?

Many of the things on the community nurse formulary are products such as dressings, catheters and creams, which most newly qualified staff

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Allowing newly qualified nurses to prescribe from a limited formulary could give patients safer access to medicines, says medicines management expert Matt Griffiths 


 Newly qualified nurses will be able to
prescribe from a limited formulary.

As part of its overhaul of nursing education, the Nursing and Midwifery Council is considering allowing newly qualified nurses to prescribe from a limited formulary. 

When I first heard this, I was concerned. I have pushed for nurse prescribing to be developed over the years, and was fearful of opening the floodgates to many more junior staff becoming prescribers. 

But after further thought, I reviewed my position. What is being considered is a limited formulary, so why shouldn't newly qualified staff have limited prescribing rights? 

Many of the things on the community nurse formulary are products such as dressings, catheters and creams, which most newly qualified staff already use. As these are not prescription-only medicines (POMs), a prescription is not legally required. 

 Positive development

Newly qualified staff can administer some POMs on a limited formulary through mechanisms such as Patient Group Directions (PGDs), but educational preparation for this varies at present between different organisations. 

PGDs aren't legally required for general sales list medicines, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, but trusts have them in place to ensure that practitioners consider the contraindications and cautions before administration.

All medicines have the potential to harm patients, but educational preparation to prescribe from a specific, limited formulary gives us a real opportunity to focus on the risks, benefits, alternative options, non-pharmacological treatments, co-morbidities and pharmacology of each item. It also provides an opportunity to standardise assessments on this knowledge nationwide.

Allowing newly qualified nurses to prescribe from a limited formulary could be a positive development in terms of safer access to medicines for patients, but these plans are only in the draft stages, so we will have to wait for the final decision from the NMC. 


About the author 

 

 

 

Matt Griffiths is visiting professor of prescribing and medicines management at Birmingham City University 

 

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