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National study launched to measure impact of non-medical prescriptions on patient care

Published: 
21 October 2008

The impact of non-medical prescriptions by nurses and pharmacists on patient care is being investigated in a national study launched by Southampton and Keele Universities.

The two universities are conducting a national Evaluation of Nurse and Pharmacist Independent Prescribing (ENPIP) to assess the quality, safety and costs of prescribing. The study was commissioned by the Department of Health following a national tendering process.

This major survey of 1,000 nurse and pharmacist prescribers will, for the first time, provide a detailed picture of the areas of patient care in which non-medical prescribers are working and quantify the extent of their prescribing. The survey will collect information on how the quality and safety of prescribing are assured. A survey of non-medical prescribing (NMP) leads in NHS Trusts will investigate the models of independent prescribing that are in operation and the clinical governance arrangements that have been put in place.

The findings will then be used to select ten case study sites for in-depth study from early 2009 onwards. The case studies will involve nurse and/or pharmacist prescribing in different NHS settings such as GP practices, hospital wards and out patient clinics, Walk-In Centres, hospital admission and discharge or accident and emergency units, nursing homes and family planning clinics. They will look in detail at prescribing for individual patients and will also include a patient feedback survey.

Professor Sue Latter, from the University of Southampton, who is co-leading the study with Professor Alison Blenkinsopp from Keele University, comments: “This is the largest study of nurse and pharmacist independent prescribing in England since the expansion of prescribing rights in 2006. It will provide new evidence on a national scale about the success of non-medical prescribing, including nurses’ and pharmacists’ views on its success and its impact on patient care.”

Notes for editors

  • The study is a collaboration between the University of Southampton (Professor Sue Latter) and Keele University’s School of Pharmacy (Professors Alison Blenkinsopp and Steve Chapman). The research team is supported by a multi-disciplinary steering group.
  • Since 2006 nurse and pharmacist independent prescribers have been able to prescribe medicines from all sections of the British National Formulary within their area of competence and excluding only controlled drugs.
  • The ENPIP study runs for 18 months from May 2008 and its findings will be reported to the DoH by November 2009.
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