Encouraging results from evaluation of mental health supplementary prescribing

How effective has non-medical supplementary prescribing been in mental health? This paper reports encouraging findings from a national evaluation funded by the Department of Health, which suggest that the effect of transferring from an independent medical prescriber to a mental health nurse prescriber may be negligible. Â

The study used two groups of patients – matched for age, gender, diagnosis and chronicity – prescribed for by nurse supplementary prescribers and by psychiatrists. The outcomes for medication adherence, health status, side effects and satisfaction with overall care did not differ significantly between the two groups. It was therefore important to know whether the costs differed: although the different prescriber groups used resources in different ways, there were no significant cost differences. The authors say that this is the first known study to compare the cost and clinical impact of independent medical prescribing and mental health nurse prescribing.

The authors add a note of caution: although the patients were matched on some characteristics, one group may still have been more seriously illl at baseline; and the patients were not randomly allocated to the different types of prescriber. Nonetheless, the results are encouraging.