Expert advice

Medicines management: What’s new about revised NMC standards for prescribers

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has published revised standards for prescribing programmes, with the biggest change affecting time limits on when nurse prescribing courses can be taken

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has published revised standards for prescribing programmes, with the biggest change affecting time limits on when nurse prescribing courses can be taken


Picture: Jim Varney

As part of a wider programme to overhaul standards for pre-registration nurse education, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has published revised standards for prescribing programmes.

They are much shorter than the old standards. The biggest change is the removal or amendment of time limits on when registrants can take nurse prescribing courses post qualification:

  • The V100 or V150 prescribing courses – open to nurses working from the limited community nurses’ formulary – can now be undertaken immediately after qualifying as a nurse.
  • The V300 independent and supplementary prescribing course – which allows prescribing from almost the entire formulary, including controlled drugs and unlicensed or off-license medicines – can now be accessed just one year after qualification.

Community nurse prescribers

Will we see lots of newly qualified nurses training as prescribers?

As the V150 is a standalone prescribing qualification – as opposed to the V100, which is part of the district nursing, school nursing and health visitor qualification – we may see more junior staff undertaking this qualification if they have a staff nurse role within the community.

Many dressings, and equipment such as stoma appliances and catheters, are prescribed for use in the community, so this qualification will allow nurses to prescribe them for their patients.

Nurses in acute care

It is unlikely this qualification would be of much use to staff nurses working in acute care, however, as most of these products are available from stock and can just be taken out of a cupboard.

Even for the limited medicines on the formulary, nurses in acute care have multiple patient group directions (PGDs) available to them, as well as access to more prescribers who can prescribe from the entre formulary.

I have been working with Cardiff University’s professor Molly Courtenay – also chair of the nurses formulary subcommittee on the British National Formulary (BNF) – and others who have just published research that provides evidence on the range of conditions for which community nurses consider it is important for them to be able to prescribe.

This work was undertaken to inform a review of the nurse prescribers’ formulary for community nurse prescribers.

Down the line

Under the new NMC standards, registrants only need to be qualified for a year to undertake the V300 prescribing course. But I doubt we will see many junior staff accessing it, at least in the short term, as this is generally a course that would be undertaken several years down the line.

Newly qualified nurses need time to consolidate their training, and some V300 courses require advanced clinical assessment. To work as an independent or supplementary prescriber, registrants need the clinical skills to either diagnose or manage patients’ conditions to a greater degree.

Although nurses used to be able to access this course three years post qualification, the majority of participants had more than five years post-qualification experience, with many having in excess of ten years.

More guidance required

In addition, whether or not staff are accepted onto the course is up to the registrant’s employer, who proposes them for the course, and the academic institution to which they apply.

The NMC has said that many of the old standards it previously provided will be covered by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s competency framework. 

These competencies have been in the public domain for many years, and current prescribers will be well aware of them. But other guidance is required for more specific concerns, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is working on these issues.


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

 

 

Further information

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs