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RPS and RCN update their position on prescribing and dispensing

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RPS and RCN update their position on prescribing and dispensing

In a statement outlining its position on the prescribing, dispensing, supply and administration of medicines, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has today said the same healthcare professional can be responsible for all four roles.

The statement, issued jointly with the Royal College of Nursing, updates guidance that stated “prescribing and dispensing/supply and/or administration of medicines should normally remain separate functions performed by separate healthcare professionals in order to protect patient safety.”

In its update, the RPS and RCN said the same healthcare professional can carry out all those functions if a risk assessment is in place and if it is in the best interests of the patient.

The bodies said their update, agreed after “an extensive year-long engagement exercise with medical associations, members, fellows, expert advisory groups, patient groups and RPS Country Boards,” was “in response to changing practices in healthcare” such as increasing numbers of independent prescribers.

“The statement recognises that independent prescribers across all professions are already prescribing and supplying or administering medicines for the same patient. Being unable to do so would potentially have a negative impact on patient experience and care,” the RPS said.

“In these situations, a risk assessment should be conducted to establish if prescribing, dispensing and supply or administration of medicines by the same person is in the best interests of the patient. A robust audit trail of the decisions should be made and the actions taken should then be communicated with other professionals supporting the patient’s care.”

RPS president Professor Claire Anderson said the updated guidance “acknowledges the changing landscape of education, training and practice related to prescribing and aims to address the needs of an increasingly diverse and dynamic healthcare system.”

“Following a consultation with a prescribing pharmacist, a patient may be asked to go to a different pharmacy to have the medicine dispensed, which may not be practical and may also delay or prevent patients who are unwell getting the medicines they need quickly,” she said.

“Allowing flexibility in prescribing and dispensing practices ensures that patient safety remains paramount while adapting to rapidly changing healthcare practice. The heart of this change is centred on the delivery of effective and patient-centred care by healthcare professionals including pharmacists.”

The RCN’s UK nursing professional lead for primary care Heather Randle said: “This more flexible approach to the prescribing, dispensing, supply and administration of medicines aligns with the evolving roles of nurses and aligns with patient-centred care. As we navigate these changes, the new guidance will ensure that best practice remains at the heart of patient care and safety.”


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