Prescribing and standards for medicines management

Requirements for prescribing programmes for nurses and midwives

Nurses and midwives have been regulated to prescribe for a number of years. The ability for them to do so - after additional training – has enabled those being cared for to receive essential treatments quickly, safely and easily.

Nurses and midwives are now caring for an increasingly diverse population with complex needs, in hospital, in the community, and in other integrated care settings. This has resulted in a need for nurses and midwives to be more clinically autonomous and confident in their abilities to provide holistic care for patients, including the ability to prescribe medicines.

We’re modernising the pre-registration standards of education and training for nurses and midwives to include more patient assessment, pharmacology and pharmacokinetics. This will help to improve students’ basic knowledge in relation to medicines management and administration generally. It will also begin to equip them with some of the skills and knowledge they will need to become prescribers in the future.

For those who then wish to develop their skills and knowledge further to become prescribers, we’re aware of the need for a joined-up approach to prescribing proficiency across all health and social care professions. That’s why we’re proposing to adopt the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) Competency Framework for All Prescribers as our standards for proficiency for nurse and midwife prescribers.

These standards will, when taken together with the requirements set out in the standards for education and training, set standards for entry to post-registration prescriber programmes for nurses and midwives.

What have we done so far?

Throughout this project, we’ve engaged with nurses, midwives, educators, employers, policy-makers, professional bodies, other health and care professions, their regulators and the public to understand their views on the future of prescribing and prescribing education.

Our engagement during late 2016 and early 2017 enabled us to develop draft new standards for prescribing programmes, which we consulted on formally between June and September 2017.

We had more than 700 responses to this consultation.

What are we doing now?

An independent, external company called Why Research Ltd collected and analysed the consultation responses.

Now that Why Research Ltd has sent us their analysis, our in-house specialists are working closely with teams of external experts and representatives of key stakeholder organisations to look at all the evidence we collected during the consultation. They are using this evidence to refine the draft standards.

What happens next?

We will bring our proposed final standards to our Council for approval in spring 2018.

If our Council approves our proposals, all our approved education institutions will adopt the new requirements for prescribing programmes for registered nurses and midwives by September 2019. From that date, all approved prescribing programmes must deliver the requirements of the RPS Competency Framework as their outcomes. We will also adopt the RPS Competency Framework as our standards of proficiency for nurse and midwife prescribing practice by September 2019.