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Non-medical prescribing

Pharmacist prescribers improve patient outcomes, review highlights

Pharmacist prescribers are associated with increased access to healthcare services and enhanced patient outcomes according to results of a review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (20 June 2018)[1].

Researchers looked at 65 studies from the UK, Australia, Canada and the United States, examining the views and experiences of stakeholders on pharmacist prescribing, as well as the facilitators and barriers for its global implementation. Stakeholders included patients, the public, doctors and nurses, but the main stakeholder group, making up 42%, were pharmacists.

According to the authors, the “overwhelming finding was positive”, particularly in relation to ease of patient access to healthcare services, improved patient outcomes, better utilisation of pharmacists’ skills and knowledge, improved pharmacist job satisfaction and reduced doctor workload.

The majority of patients who had consulted with a pharmacist prescriber were highly satisfied with their competence and capability, and considered their prescribing to be as effective and safe as their doctor. 

Any lack of support for pharmacist prescribing was largely based on accountability for prescribing; limited pharmacist diagnosis skills; lack of access to patient clinical records, most notably in community pharmacy settings; and issues around organisational and financial support.

The researchers concluded that there was global evidence of the positive views and experiences of diverse stakeholder groups towards pharmacist prescribers, but organisational issues needed to be tackled before the practice could be implemented and sustained more widely.

According to the report, implementation of non-medical prescribing is most advanced in Scotland and particularly for pharmacists. The aspiration is that all patient-facing pharmacists in Scotland will be pharmacist independent prescribers by 2023.

In a survey carried out by The Pharmaceutical Journal in 2017, 17% of 255 independent prescribers who responded said they have never prescribed and 16% said they use their qualification no more than once a month.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205033

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