Prescribing for Mental Health Related Conditions, London, 30 October 2009

This conference provided an excellent opportunity to discover how mental health nursing is currently seizing the opportunities offered by non-medical prescribing.

It was particularly encouraging to learn about the work being done to meet the physical health requirements of people with mental illness from a public health perspective, as well as developments in prescribing for schizophrenia and the benefits or challenges of new drugs on the horizon.

One interesting debate looked at whether non-medical prescribers in mental health should be restricted to supplementary prescribing for at least a year, as happens in some Trusts, whereas others allow their staff to use their independent prescribing skills from day one, a debate that I am sure that will continue until there is confidence in the ability of practitioners to prescribe safely and within their area of competence.

Lydia Burke gave an excellent overview of the past, present and future of prescribing in the mental health field and updated the audience on the current rather slow progress by the Home Office to amend the legislation to allow the full range of controlled drugs to be prescribed independently, improving patients’ access to their medications. Other sessions included continuing professional development for mental health prescribers (Jennie Bradford), prescribing in memory clinics (Charles Kpodo), and anxiety and depression in the elderly (Dr Jane Garner).

‘Prescribing for Mental Health Related Conditions’, held on 30 October, was organised by the ANP in partnership with Middlesex University, which provided the accommodation free of charge, helping make the conference affordable for participants. It was chaired by Dr June Crown, and attracted a varied audience or nurses and pharmacists from as far away as Scotland. Despite swine flu flooring a few of our speakers, requiring replacements at the eleventh hour, it was a well-evaluated day and the ANP stand attracted a lot of interest and certainly raised the profile of non-medical prescribing.

Jennie Bradford, Non Medical Prescribing Lead, Middlesex University.