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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2004, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Nurse prescribing to be extended
Nurse in hospital
Nurses would be able to prescribe more widely under the proposals
Patients with conditions such as DVT and meningitis could have their drugs prescribed by nurses, under proposals announced by the government.

It said the plans would mean patients in A&E could be treated more quickly.

The government listed 60 drugs for 30 conditions which it says should be added to list that qualified nurses can already prescribe from.

The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the proposals but said they were "cautious".

By breaking down traditional prescribing roles, patients can more easily access the treatment they need
John Hutton, Health minister
Under the plans, which will be put out for consultation over the next three months, nurses would be able to prescribe for a range of illnesses including respiratory, circulatory, eye and gastrointestinal conditions, infections, poisoning and substance dependence.

The Department of Health said it wanted to make better use of nurses' skills and make it easier for patients to get access to the medicines that they need.

In addition to the existing list of 180 medications which around 2,000 nurses can prescribe, around 25,000 district and community nurses can prescribe from a narrower list.


Health Minister, John Hutton said: "Extending nurse prescribing is an important part of our commitment to modernise the NHS.

"By breaking down traditional prescribing roles, patients can more easily access the treatment they need and are able to more fully benefit from the NHS' highly skilled workforce.

"Today's proposals will particularly improve emergency care for patients and help to relieve the burden on staff working in A&E."

Matt Griffiths, of the Royal College of Nursing, told BBC News Online: "We welcome the proposed additions, but we would like to see the entire British National Formulary - the drugs database - opened up to nurses.

"It seems the Department of Health and the Committee on Safety of Medicines are being cautious to make sure that prescribing is rolled out in a safe way, and that patient safety is paramount."

He said nurses did recognise their limitations, and added: "The RCN obviously wants to ensure that patient safety is paramount."

Don MacKechnie, chairman of the British Medical Association's A&E Committee said: "We welcome proposals to expand nurse prescribing to support the work of A&E staff.

"Clearly any treatment given must be according to strict protocol and subject to ongoing audit in the normal way."

Nurse prescribing 'poses threat'
30 May 02  |  Health
Nurse prescribing role expands
01 Apr 02  |  Health
Prescribing shake-up planned
16 Apr 02  |  Health

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