Non-medical prescribing continues to grow

NHS Prescription Services received 11.6 million items for processing from nurse prescribers in the year to March 2009, an increase of 18.8% on the previous year according to a recent report from the NHS Business Services Authority.

In March this year, there were over 11 000 nurse independent prescribers and more than 21 600 community practitioners on its database of prescribers, and there are now also nearly 600 pharmacist prescribers.

The number of items prescribed by nurse independent prescribers is increasing, while that prescribed by community practitioners is decreasing, although this is probably down to the increasing numbers of the latter taking the prescribing course. Penicillins are the largest single category for nurse prescribing, followed by emollients. Non-medical prescribing also appears to be reducing the pressure on GPs.