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Prescribing

New home for prescribing framework

All healthcare professionals who prescribe must follow a common set of principles, and the pharmacy profession is an appropriate steward for a prescribing framework.

All healthcare professionals who prescribe must follow a common set of principles, and the pharmacy profession is an appropriate steward for a prescribing framework.

Source: istockphoto.com

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is responsible for the competency framework for all prescribers in the UK, a document that sets out the attributes of good prescribing practice. NICE has entrusted the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) with leading a revision of the framework involving the various organisations that represent healthcare professionals qualified to prescribe.   

In the UK, doctors are not the only healthcare professionals who prescribe medicines. Prescribing rights were extended to nurses and pharmacists first in 2003 within confined circumstances, then by 2005 as independent prescribers. Optometrists joined the ranks of independent prescribers in 2008, and physiotherapists and podiatrists in 2013.

The current framework was one of the final pieces of work from England’s National Prescribing Centre before that organisation was subsumed into NICE in 2012. Known as a single competency framework for all prescribers, it recognises that there is a common set of behaviours and skills for all professionals who prescribe, whatever their professional background.

Now is the right time to update the prescribing competencies. Even if we say so ourselves, it is a sound move by NICE to ask the professional body of pharmacists to host the framework for all prescribers. Data from the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre for 2014 show around 96% of prescriptions dispensed in the community were for medicines. Pharmacists have the vantage point for what good prescribing should look like, and pharmacy has long been a steward of medicines safety.

The RPS will oversee the development process in collaboration with other professional organisations. And there will be a process of user testing with prescribers and patients. When the RPS publishes the updated framework in 2016, the document will carry the weight of a professional body and be applicable across the UK with international influence.

All of the organisations that represent members qualified as prescribers should contribute to the new framework. Prescribers who have used the existing framework and identified any deficiencies should have a say. 

Pharmacy will produce and be a home for the new framework, but it should be a practical tool for all prescribers.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20069021

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  • All healthcare professionals who prescribe must follow a common set of principles, and the pharmacy profession is an appropriate steward for a prescribing framework.

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