NICE now expects to publish the new good practice guidance for patient group directions (PGDs) in June, it has announced, and some organisations have published information about their responses to the consultation, which closed at the end of April.
The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists is recommending that pharmacy technicians be added to the list of professionals who can use PGDs, arguing that their clinical roles in the NHS have developed in recent years and that this would improve patients’ access to medicines. The Guild is clear that PGDs should only be used for “distinct patient episodes”, as otherwise they may end up being used for rare indications “as cover” by some providers that do not have a doctor or referral mechanism. This use of PGDs as a substitute for non-medical prescribing in these situations is not in patients’ interests.
Pharmacy Voice highlights what it sees as the benefits of PGDs, for example how community pharmacy NHS ‘flu vaccination services may help reach under-65 at risk groups.Â It argues that there have been only limited opportunities for community pharmacists to become independent prescribers, although service redesign does offer further potential.