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Prescribing practice: an overview of the principles

23 September 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 17


Nurse prescribing has become a well-established aspect of advanced clinical practice working alongside key NHS principles and drivers to address the increasing complexities in patient care and the demands on the health service. Prescribing practice is governed by ethical and legal principles to ensure a holistic patient-centred approach. It has been recognised as a valuable resource that could effectively transform healthcare services to reduce hospital admissions and long hospital stays and improve the quality of life for patients with long-term conditions and multiple comorbidities. This article will provide an overview of prescribing practice.

Nurse prescribing has become well established in the UK. It has developed over the years since the Cumberledge report in 1986 recommended non-medical prescribing from a limited list for community-based nurses (Department of Health and Social Security, 1986; Cope et al, 2016). Nurse prescribing is now an integral part of advanced level practice.

There are two main types of nurse prescriber (Royal College of Nursing (RCN), 2021). These are:

CPNPs are nurses who have successfully completed a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Community Practitioner Nurse Prescribing course (V100 or V150) and are registered as a CPNP with the NMC (RCN, 2021). Most of these nurses work in primary care and are only qualified to prescribe from the Nurse Prescribers Formulary for Community Practitioners (Nurse Prescribers Advisory Group, 2021). This is a limited formulary that contains dressings, pharmacy (P), general sales list (GSL) and 13 prescription-only medicines (PoM).

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