Aim: This paper is a report of a survey to provide an overview of nurse independent prescribing and nurse supplementary prescribing across the United Kingdom.
Background: Evidence examining the frequency of prescribing by nurses is conflicting, and it is evident that several factors hamper prescribing practice. As of May 2006, legislative changes gave appropriately qualified nurses virtually the same independent prescribing right as doctors. However, there is currently no evidence available about the prescribing practices of these nurses.
Method: A random sample of 1992 qualified Nurse Independent/Nurse Supplementary Prescribers registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council was sent a postal questionnaire in 2006. A total of 1400 (70%) questionnaires were returned, of which 1377 were completed.
Findings: Eight hundred and ninety-one (65%) respondents worked in primary care, and 333 (24.3%) worked in secondary care. Three quarters of the sample had more than 5-year clinical experience in the area in which they prescribed prior to entering the prescribing programme. One thousand one hundred and seven (87%) participants had used nurse independent prescribing and 568 (44.6%) nurse supplementary prescribing. Restriction of local arrangements, implementation of the Clinical Management Plan and access to doctors hampered or prevented prescribing.
Conclusion: The adoption of prescribing by nurses in the United Kingdom has increased patient choice with regard to access to medicines. A number of factors which hamper or prevent prescribing require further exploration.