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Nurse prescribing

This guide provides information on nurse prescribing including types of nurse prescriber, keeping stocks of medication and the RCN Indemnity scheme. It also provides a list of further useful resources.

Types of nurse prescriber

The RCN acknowledges that some nurse prescribers are registered midwives.

The two main types are:

  • Community Practitioner Nurse Prescribers (CPNP)

These are nurses who have successfully completed a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Community Practitioner Nurse Prescribing course (also known as v100 or V150 courses). The majority of nurses who have done this course are district nurses and public health nurses (previously known as health visitors), community nurses and school nurses. They are qualified to prescribe only from the Nurse Prescribers Formulary (NPF) for Community Practitioners. This formulary contains appliances, dressings, pharmacy (P), general sales list (GSL) and thirteen prescription only medicines (POMs).

  • Nurse Independent Prescribers (NIP)

Nurse independent prescribers are nurses who have successfully completed an NMC Independent Nurse Prescribing Course (also known as v200 or v300 courses). They are able to prescribe any medicine provided it is in their competency to do so. This includes medicines and products listed in the BNF, unlicensed medicines and all controlled drugs in schedules two - five.

Those who have successfully completed the supplementary part of the prescribing course are also able to prescribe against a clinical management plan. Supplementary prescribing is described by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as:

"a voluntary partnership between an Independent Prescriber (IP-er) and a supplementary prescriber (SP-er)," (e.g. nurse, pharmacist) "to implement an agreed patient-specific clinical management plan (CMP) with the patient's agreement."

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Nurse independent prescribers and controlled drugs - changes to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations

The Misuse of Drugs Regulations covers all of the UK except Northern Ireland. This legislation divides controlled drugs (CDs) into five schedules corresponding to their therapeutic usefulness and misuse potential.

On 23 April 2012 changes to these regulations allowed nurses and midwives who are qualified as nurse independent prescribers to prescribe all controlled drugs listed in schedules two- five where it is clinically appropriate and within their professional competence (except for cocaine, diamorphine and dipipanone for the treatment of addiction). Changes also allowed nurse independent prescribers to mix any controlled drugs listed in schedules two-five prior to administration with another medicine for patients who need drugs intravenously.

Amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 were introduced on 10 May 2012 to allow a nurse independent prescriber and a pharmacist independent prescriber to prescribe controlled drugs as described.

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Nurse prescribers and RCN indemnity

Please see our indemnity scheme and note that since July 2014 it now excludes aesthetic practice.

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Become a nurse prescriber

Use the NMC's course search facility to find an approved nurse prescribing programme.

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Further information

From the NMC website:

Standards for Medicines Management

The NMC Code

Standards of Proficiency for Nurse and Midwife Prescribers

Other resources:

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) can provide information on legislation and medicines and medical devices

NICE Medicines and Prescribing Centre provides support for medicines and prescribing.

Country-specific guidance is also available at the following websites by searching for ‘nurse prescribing':

England: Department of Health

Northern Ireland: Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPSNI)

Scotland: NHS Scotland

Wales: Welsh Government

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Call the RCN on: 03457726100

Page last updated - 17/10/2018