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Improvement to Patients' Access to Medicines Declared

Armen Hareyan's picture

New guidance for extending prescribing by nurses and pharmacists in the Health Service will increase patients' access to medicines.

A guide to Implementing Nurse and Pharmacist Independent Prescribing within the Health Service in Northern Ireland has been produced for health professionals and their employers. It provides information and advice on good practice that will promote safe and effective prescribing by suitably trained nurses and pharmacists.

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Legislative changes introduced during 2006 mean that qualified Nurse and Pharmacist Independent Prescribers can now prescribe any licensed medicine for any medical condition, within their competence, including, for nurses, some controlled drugs.

Health Minister, Paul Goggins said: "Extending nurse and pharmacist independent prescribing is an important part of our commitment to modernising the Health Service. Delivered by highly skilled and well-trained staff, it represents a major advance in improving the accessibility of medicines to patients.

"Medicines are the most common treatment used in the care of patients and now that trained nurses and pharmacists, in addition to doctors, can prescribe a full range of medicines, it will be significantly easier for patients to get the right medicines they need, when they need them."

With the support of their employers, nurses and pharmacists can undertake these roles upon successful completion of a post graduate prescribing training course, accredited by their respective regulatory bodies in addition to their undergraduate training. These qualifications must also be noted on the professional register and once trained, prescribers are required to keep their skills up to date.