Nurse prescribing, policy, practice and evidence base

Br J Community Nurs. 2008 Dec;13(12):563-6. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2008.13.12.31830.


There are now over 30,000 nurses across the UK who are qualified to prescribe from the Nurse Prescribing Formulary (NPF) for community practitioners. Training to prescribe from this formulary is now available to community staff nurses. Increasing numbers of community nurses are extending their prescribing skills by adopting independent and supplementary prescribing. Over 14,000 nurses across the UK are qualified to prescribe using these modes of prescribing. The benefits of nurse prescribing exceed those anticipated by the Government. However, there is some misunderstanding by doctors about the prescribing role. Doctors have concerns about nurses encroaching on medical territory, nurses' clinical skill base, and the possibility that nurses will prescribe outside of their area of competence. If doctors have an established relationship with a nurse prior to the adoption of prescribing, and have experienced some of the tangible benefits of this role, this helps to readdress these concerns. The increasing numbers of community nurses adopting and extending their role in the prescription of medicines is an indication that healthcare reforms, shifting care into the community, means that nurses are frequently the first point of contact from whom patients access their medicines. If the benefits of nurse prescribing are to be maximized and nurses are to feel supported in this role, there is a need to educate doctors about the professional limitations of nurse prescribing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Nursing / education*
  • Drug Therapy / nursing*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Nurse Clinicians / education*
  • Professional Autonomy*
  • United Kingdom