RCN briefing on nurse prescribing

The RCN has just published a factsheet about nurse prescribing in the UK. National nurses’ associations elsewhere are apparently keen to find out more about nurse prescribing and its evidence base. The factsheet explains the background to the policy, and its nuts and bolts, before looking at how it has been implemented in the different countries of the UK.

In England, the factsheet notes that 20% of independent nurse prescribers are actually using supplementary prescribing, that a few NHS hospitals insist that independent nurse prescribers practise as supplementary prescribers for six months after qualifying, that some NHS Trusts place restrictions by setting or formulary, and that training and professional development are still issues.

In Scotland, a 2010 progress review demonstrated the benefits and positive perceptions of nurse prescribing, which is in place across most of the country, with policies to underpin it; in Wales, however, although legislation was passed in 2007, there has not been a focus on developing it in key areas, and uptake is largely dependent on individuals. Legislation was also passed in Northern Ireland in 2007 but the report does not discuss uptake or implementation of nurse prescribing there.

The evidence base – or lack of it – for nurse prescribing, especially on outcomes, has been highlighted recently (see here and here). The RCN factsheet looks at the work that has been done, and the evidence that is accumulating for the safety and advantages of nurse prescribing mainly from qualitative and anecdotal surveys and questionnaires, concluding that empirical evidence of positive clinical and economic outcomes of nurse prescribing is still lacking.