Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Influencing policy and practice in the non-medical prescribing revolution

In 2006 Government legislation was introduced to enable nurses and pharmacists to independently prescribe medicines from across almost the whole formulary. At that time there was little evidence about the scope, scale, acceptability and quality of nurse and pharmacist prescribing.

University of Southampton researchers undertook the first national study of independent prescribing which has directly influenced the shape and pace of training, legislation and policy, and ultimately positioned the UK as a global leader in non-medical prescribing (NMP).

Non-medical prescribing
Non-medical prescribing

Research challenge

When it was introduced non-medical prescribing was controversial but its expansion was key to the modernisation of healthcare and services. As NMP was so new there was little evidence about its safety or effectiveness. Urgent assessment of NMP was needed and quickly.


Greater powers to enable specially trained nurses and pharmacists to prescribe medication are intended to provide patients with quicker, more efficient access to medicines whilst ensuring patient safety. Since 2002, the number of nurses undertaking training to independently prescribe has been steadily rising.

The Department of Health commissioned our researchers to evaluate how nurse and pharmacist prescribing was being used in healthcare settings across England and to provide a national evaluation to inform future policy, education and practice

Our solution

Non-medical prescribing research led by Professor Sue Latter assessed nurse and pharmacist prescribing in England over a two year period using uniquely designed study methods and evaluation criteria.

Our researchers conducted surveys to quantify the scope and scale of prescribing; obtain opinions, experiences and preferences of patients; evaluate the governance and management of NMP in health care organisations; and identify how satisfied prescribers were with the training they received. The study also involved an assessment of the quality and safety of nurses' and pharmacists' prescribing consultations with patients.


Key changes in national prescribing policy have been directly informed by our research and independent prescribing is now making a substantial contribution to safe and good quality patient care. We have also been able to highlight areas where NMP could be strengthened and better tailored to meet NHS services and future health care needs.

The UK is now a global leader in NMP and our study methods and evaluation criteria have been adopted internationally for non-medical prescribing research in Canada, New Zealand and Ireland.


Share this case study Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings