Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association

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Extension of Nurse Prescribing Welcomed by the CPHVA

The announcement from the Department of Health on the extension of nurse prescribing is welcomed by The CPHVA. It is a real leap in the right direction for nurses.

Within the NHS Plan the government has outlined a radical plan of reform for the NHS in England. Much of this reform concerns the way in which accessibility might be improved for patients and within this theme how health professionals might work in different ways and settings so as to provide a more responsive service. There are to be enhanced roles for nurses in general practice, nurses leading care provision in walk-in centres and minor injury units, and nurses being able to provide more complex care in accident and emergency situations. Prescribing rights will allow these nurses to be able to give a complete package of holistic care.

The four main areas that nurses will be able to prescribe in are minor illness, minor ailments, health promotion and palliative care. Independent nurse prescribers will be able to prescribe all general sales list and pharmacy medicines as well as a list of prescription-only medicines (POMs). This will mean that many patients will benefit from nurses being able to prescribe, which is good news. More specialist nurses need to be able to prescribe from a much wider formulary if the best possible care is to be provided efficiently and effectively at the right time and in the right place.

We must remember that most patients will still receive their prescription medication from a medical practitioner, especially those patients with multiple pathology.

Background to nurse prescribing

In 1986 the Cumberlege Report suggested that allowing district nurses and health visitors to prescribe would enhance patient care, and in 1990 the first Crown Report considering nurse prescribing per se recommended a rapid implementation of this concept. Legislation passed in 1992 permitted piloting of urse prescribing. Nurse prescribing has now been extending to all health visitors and district nurses working within NHS England

We await further documentation from The Department of Health and look forward to taking an active part in the consultation on the list of POMs available for nurse prescribing.

, CPHVA Professional Officer, Practice Nursing
May 2001