Nurses and pharmacists to prescribe controlled drugs

INDEPENDENT prescribers in England including nurses, midwives and pharmacists will now be able to prescribe controlled drugs such as morphine, diamorphine and co-codamol under changes to Misuse of Drugs Regulations.

The changes affect around 20,000 nurses and midwives and 1,500 pharmacists qualified as 'independent prescribers' who will now be able to prescribe controlled drugs where it is clinically appropriate and within their professional competence. They will also be able to mix a controlled drug with another medicine for patients who need urgent intravenous treatment for pain relief in A&E or palliative care settings.

Patients will now no longer have to wait for a doctor to sign a prescription and should 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.

"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."

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