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New ways of prescribing

Recent policy developments have enabled the introduction of new ways to prescribe medication, for example non-medical prescribing and patient group directions. Non-medical supplementary prescribing was introduced in 2003 and has been defi ned by the DH  as: ‘a voluntary prescribing partnership between an independent prescriber (doctor) and supplementary prescriber (nurse or pharmacist) to implement an agreed service user specifi c clinical management plan with the service user’s agreement.’ In May 2006, the DH further extended the role of non-medical prescribers by introducing independent non-medical prescribing: ‘.  .  . 

Prescribing by a practitioner (e.g. doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist) responsible and accountable for the assessment of patients with undiagnosed or diagnosed conditions, and for decisions about the clinical management required, including prescribing.’ DH and patient group directions: ‘.  .  .  written instructions to enable registered nurses to supply and administer a specifi ed medication to a group of service users who may not be individually identifi ed before treatment.’ DH  These developments represents a major innovation in the way nurses work and it is expected that this new modernisation in the way services are delivered will not only make better use of the knowledge and skills of nurses but will allow for more timely and effective medication changes and administration, and increase the service users’ treatment choices. Two factors will be crucial to the safe and effective development of this new way of working: i. ii. Conclusion The nurse prescriber’s knowledge and skills in medicines management and a commitment to continuous professional development together with a supportive infrastructure and resources to develop and improve practice; The establishment of clear professional and Trust strategies and policies, supported by key individuals and monitored through robust clinical governance structures.

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