Headlines: February 21st, 2002

The line of demarcation between doctors and nurses is being re-drawn with a change in the policy of who can prescribe what medicines. Minor injuries and ailments comprise up to 30 per cent of GP consultations and this widening of the nurse role will offer scope to reduce GPs’ and hospital doctors’ workload.Under new guidelines nurses will be able to prescribe treatments for medical conditions, including minor injuries such as burns, cuts or sprains as well as for minor ailments such as hayfever or ear infections and this will include antibiotics. They will also prescribe for palliative care and for promoting healthier lifestyles, such as providing vitamins for women planning pregnancy.

Some 10,000 nurses will attend a training programme, costing 10 million pounds, before they can take on this new role. The programme will extend over the next two years.

A recent MORI poll showed that 87 per cent of people would be happy to be seen by a nurse rather than a doctor, if their conditions were not serious