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Medicines management

Medicines Management

Following the announcement of the withdrawal of the NMC Standards for Medicines Management (2007), the RCN has been working closely with the NMC and other organisations, including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and other colleges, to review currently available documents and develop new guidelines as needed. 

This webpage is a resource intended to provide guidance and clinical support for nurses and other healthcare professionals on medicines matters in relation to prescribing and administration of medicines by non-medical healthcare professionals.

This resource will continue to develop and we will continue to update the pages as new resources become available. For more information on what we are working on and what is coming up in the future, including new guidance, guidelines in review and conferences, see our current work section. We also plan to add a section on scenarios, FAQs and guidance developed by the RCN and in partnership with other organisations as it becomes available.

So what is medicines management?

A term defined by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as: “The clinical, cost-effective and safe use of medicines to ensure patients get the maximum benefit from the medicines they need, while at the same time minimising potential harm.” 

Also referred to as medicines optimisation, medicines management has been defined as a 'system of processes and behaviours that determine how medicines are used by the NHS and patients' (National Prescribing Centre 2002).

The ultimate goal of safe and effective medicines management is to optimise the benefits that treatment offers and attain the best outcome for each patient. (Department of Health, Northern Ireland).

Good medicines management, is an integral part of most nursing and midwifery practice and includes the administration of medicines, prescribing and supporting people to take their medicines correctly. Effective medicines management places the patient as the primary focus, thus delivering better targeted care and better informed individuals.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) good practice guidance states that medicines optimisation is a vital to health care and that the evidence base clearly demonstrates that health care professionals and patients need to work together to improve the quality of medicines use. There is good evidence that medicines management supports better and more cost effective care.

Who the resource is for

This resource is intended for registered health care professionals. Some of the principles are likely to apply and be of value to health and care professionals who work or advice on medicines management in social care settings and the non-registered workforce.

In the medicines optimisation section, there is a page on medicines optimisation in care homes which looks at administration of medicines in care homes, nursing homes and by Health Care Assistants.

Future developments and feedback

If you have any comments on this guidance or suggestions as to how the guidance can be further developed please contact heather.randle@rcn.org.uk, Project Lead for Medicines Management.

Nursing Associates and medicines administration 

Social prescribing

Find out more about social prescribing and the RCN Congress fringe event on social prescribing.

Education resources

NMC code of conduct

The NMC code presents the professional standards that nurses, midwives and nursing associates must uphold in order to be registered to practise in the UK.

School nursing

Find out more about about medicines management for nurses employed directly by schools or colleges.

Safety in numbers

Numeracy is particularly important in health care and plays a key role in medicines management. Find out more.