Headlines: April 24th, 2012

Nurses, midwives and pharmacists are now able to provide faster and more effective pain relief. Changes to regulations mean that they will be able to prescribe controlled drugs like morphine, diamorphine and prescription-strength co-codamol.

As a result of the changes some 20,000 nurses and midwives, and 1,500 pharmacists who are qualified as ‘independent prescribers’ will now be able to prescribe controlled drugs where it is clinically appropriate and within their professional competence.

Nurses and pharmacists will also now be able to mix a controlled drug with another medicine for patients who need drugs intravenously. This will ensure faster treatment, especially for those who need urgent pain relief in A&E and palliative care settings.

Most prescriptions for controlled drugs will be to reduce pain and suffering of emergency patients in A&E, or those nearing the end of their life. These patients will now no longer have to wait for a doctor to sign a prescription, which means they will be able to receive urgent pain relief more quickly. Nurses and pharmacists will also now be able to prescribe controlled drugs in community pain clinics for patients with long-term conditions such as arthritis.

Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Dame Chris Beasley, said: “These changes will help deliver faster and more effective care, making it easier for patients to get the medicines they need, without compromising safety.
She added: “Enabling appropriately qualified nurses and pharmacists to prescribe and mix those controlled drugs they are competent to use, for example in palliative care, completes the changes made over recent years to ensure we make the best use of these highly trained professionals’ skills, for the benefit of patients.”