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Government eyes overhaul of who can prescribe and how to dispense

The government wants power to expand the range of health professionals who can prescribe low-risk medicines, as well as develop “innovative ways of dispensing”.

One of the main elements of a proposed Medicines and Medical Devices Bill – referred to in the Queen’s Speech yesterday (October 14) and expanded on in a government briefing document – is: “Enabling the government to increase the range of professions able to prescribe low-risk medicines to make the most effective use of the NHS workforce, as well as developing more innovative ways of dispensing medicines, where recommended by scientific experts.”

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) told C+D that the professions who will benefit from this extension of prescribing powers, and which low-risk medicines will be included, will be subject to public consultations.

However, it pointed to pharmacists delivering flu vaccines under patient group directions as an example of how “similar powers have been used in the past”.

Expanding prescribing powers “will ensure patients are able to get medicines from the most appropriate healthcare professional for their situation quickly and pressure is reduced on the wider NHS workforce”.

“This includes exemptions that allow some professionals to administer specific medicines for immediate necessary treatment,” said the DH, which pointed to paramedics administering pain relief in emergencies as another example.

All further details of the proposed powers will be informed by “public consultations, drawing on the expertise of clinicians and medical experts”, it told C+D. More information will be “released in due course”.

Another element of the bill would be “ensuring patient safety by implementing a scheme to combat counterfeit medicines entering supply chains and a registration scheme for online sellers”, the DH said in the briefing document.

Would you like prescribing powers to be extended?

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