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Enablers and barriers to pharmacists and nurses becoming independent prescribers

02 January 2024
Volume 6 · Issue 1


Independent prescribing was introduced in the UK in 2006, allowing qualified nurses and pharmacists to prescribe medicines independently; however, only 13% of nurses and 15% of pharmacists are currently independent prescribers (IPs). This study aimed to explore the factors that influence the intended behaviours of pharmacists and nurses enrolled on an independent prescribing course, and identifies enablers and barriers to becoming IPs. A cross-sectional qualitative study used semi-structured interviews based on two models of health behaviour: social cognitive theory and the theory of planned behaviour. A total of 20 interviews were completed with 15 pharmacists and five nurses. Themes that emerged related to attitudes, facilitators, barriers, social and environmental influences, and optimism. Participants demonstrated a positive attitude and a willingness to progress in their roles, but some participants stated that time constraints were the most significant barrier to becoming IPs. Consideration of the results of this study will reinforce the intention of these groups to become prescribers and engage in the role of enhancing healthcare outcomes.

In the UK, ‘non-medical prescriber’ (NMP) is an umbrella term that describes all health professionals, except physicians and dentists, who have completed a higher qualification in prescribing and are legally authorised to prescribe medications to patients (Cope et al, 2016). To commence their prescribing responsibilities, NMPs must complete an approved prescribing course and register with their relevant professional bodies (Noblet et al, 2017). Non-medical prescribing mainly comprises two models: supplementary non-medical prescribing (sNMP) and independent non-medical prescribing (iNMP).

Nurses and pharmacists were given supplementary prescribing rights in 2003, permitting them to prescribe medications under patient agreement (Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), 2005). To proceed to successful supplementary prescribing, a voluntary partnership between the physician and the supplementary prescriber was fundamental to develop an agreed clinical management plan; then, the supplementary prescriber could prescribe medications from the agreed list without physician involvement (DHSC, 2005).

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