Headlines: April 17th, 2002

The Department of Health is proposing to give pharmacists and nurses greater powers to write prescriptions.It will mean that after diagnosis, patients may no longer need to re-visit their doctor for prescriptions for medicines such as inhalers and hormone replacement therapy.

Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis may all be treated through continuing prescriptions from nurses or pharmacists.

The Government says the impact will be to make getting the right medicine easier and more convenient.

The proposals involve a strong working partnership between the doctor and the ‘supplementary’ prescriber (nurse or pharmacist). A plan would be drawn up by the doctor, with the patient’s agreement, laying out the range of medicines which can be prescribed and when to refer back to the doctor.

It is planned that, following training, nurses will begin supplementary prescribing by early 2003 with pharmacists following later.