What Does A Pharmaceutical Prescriber Nurse Do?

In the UK, the law defines people with the authority to issue a prescription as “appropriate practitioners”. Appropriate practitioners, also known as prescribers, are healthcare professionals that are legally allowed to write a prescription for medication; this applies to both prescriptions issued under the NHS and private prescriptions.


There are two types of appropriate practitioner:

  • independent prescribers, who are able to write a prescription for any licensed medication within their own competency
  • supplementary prescribers, who are able to write a prescription in accordance with a pre-agreed medical plan arranged between a doctor and patient

Independent prescribers

An independent prescriber is a healthcare professional with responsibilities including assessing patient health and making a clinical decision regarding the best way to manage their condition. This includes prescribing medication.

Independent prescribers include:

  • doctors working in both GP clinics and hospitals
  • dentists
  • nurse independent prescribers
  • pharmacist independent prescribers
  • optometrist independent prescribers
  • physiotherapists
  • podiatrists and chiropodists

Supplementary prescribers

A supplementary prescriber is responsible for continuing patient care once an independent prescriber has assessed a patient’s health. They work alongside the independent prescriber to fulfil a previously arranged clinical management plan.

Supplementary prescribers include:

  • nurses and midwives
  • pharmacists and pharmaceutical prescribers
  • therapeutic and diagnostic radiographers
  • optometrists
  • dieticians

The difference between an optometrist independent prescriber and a supplementary optometrist prescriber is that the former is able to prescribe medication for medical conditions that affect the eye and surrounding tissue, excluding independently prescribed and controlled medications. A supplementary optometrist prescriber, meanwhile, examines eyes and can prescribe glasses and contact lenses.


Different types of prescribers

Appropriate practitioners have different prescribing rules and regulations dependent on their field and speciality, and some types of prescribers have their own sub-categories. The Royal College of Nurses acknowledges two main types of nurse prescriber:

  • Community Practitioner Nurse Prescribers (CPNP), formerly known as District Nurses, which includes midwives, district nurses and any nurse who has completed a Nursing and Midwifery Council Practitioner Nurse Prescribing course; they are only qualified to prescribe from the Nurses Prescribers Formulary for Community Practitioners, including appliances, dressings, pharmaceutical items and thirteen types of prescription medicines
  • Nurse Independent Prescribers (NIP), who are nurses that have successfully completed a Nursing and Midwifery Council Independent Nurse Prescribing course; they are allowed to prescribe any medication that is within their expertise

Nurse prescribers are not permitted to order or maintain the stock levels of any prescription medications due to legislative changes based on the principle that prescriptions are dispensed via a pharmaceutical outlet.

Another type of independent appropriate practitioner is a pharmaceutical independent prescriber. These individual professionals are able to prescribe any licensed medicine for any medical condition within their expertise and understanding, including some controlled drugs.


Non-medical prescribers

Non-medical prescribers still need to undergo training and are split into three different categories, which are:

  • independent
  • supplementary
  • prescriptions from Community Practitioners from the Nurse Prescribers’ Formulary for Community Practitioners

Their responsibilities include:

  • improving patient care without compromising safety
  • easing patient access to medication and prescriptions
  • educating patients on the management of long-term health conditions and offering palliative care
  • delivering out of hours care
  • giving advice concerning mental health issues
  • offering services to the homeless

Currently, nurses, pharmacists and pharmaceutical prescribers and other aforementioned healthcare specialists and appropriate practitioners can undertake training to qualify as a non-medical prescriber.


Responsibilities of pharmaceutical prescriber nurses

Pharmaceutical prescriber nurses have an important role, as they can help to reduce waiting times for patients in primary care, such as GP surgeries. It also means that doctors have more time with patients suffering with symptoms that need to be dealt with more urgently.

Independent nurse prescribers are also permitted to prescribe Botox; only qualified nurses can inject Botox, and only prescribers can prescribe it. Many nurse prescribers move into the plastic surgery field as their career progresses.

Pharmaceutical prescriber nurses also:

  • monitor and assess patient health
  • make clinical management decisions
  • keep patient documents up to date
  • offer support to doctors during busy periods
  • promote safe and effective prescribing

To ensure that a patient receives the best possible care, they will undergo an assessment, which a pharmaceutical prescriber nurse will then analyse and interpret. They will then select the most suitable therapy as well as a method to monitor the patient’s progress. This is typically a check-up appointment.

Prescriptions are typically written out within a multidisciplinary healthcare environment, such as a hospital or community setting, whereby there is single access to healthcare records.

East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours Services is currently recruiting for pharmaceutical nurse prescribers. If you have the prescribing qualification and are looking for supplementary work to boost your income, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact us here for more information or to apply.