Regulations to allow pharmacists to prescribe independently came into effect in 2006. A pharmacist independent prescriber may prescribe autonomously for any condition within their clinical competence. This currently excludes three controlled drugs for the treatment of addiction.
Becoming an independent prescriber
In order to qualify as an independent prescriber, you must complete a GPhC-accredited course. On successful completion of the course, you will receive a practice certificate in independent prescribing, making you eligible to apply for annotation to the register.
An accredited independent prescribing course is typically run over a period of 6 months. The course is part-time and often delivered through a combination of face-to-face teaching sessions (often one day per week) and self-directed study.
Some universities offer a course with a larger distance learning option, however, all courses will involve a minimum of 26 days of teaching and learning activity. In addition to this, each pharmacist must successfully complete at least 12 days (90 hours) of learning in a practice environment whilst being supervised by a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP).
The standards were revised in October 2022, and from 1 October 2022 the accreditation and reaccreditation of independent prescribing courses will be to the revised standards. Some courses which were last accredited before 1 October 2022 may still be running according to the previous standards.
Guidance to support the standards
We have developed guidance for the education and training of pharmacist independent prescribers, which is intended to support course providers as they design courses for the education and training of pharmacist independent prescribers.
The guidance also provides clarity for pharmacists and their designated prescribing practitioners (DPPs) around achieving learning outcomes within the standards.
Accredited independent prescribing courses
You can find a list of the universities that offer independent prescribing courses together with the latest accreditation reports.
For further information on the accreditation of independent prescribing courses please see the Approval process for education and training providers.
Independent prescribing entry requirements
Entry requirements for independent prescribing courses are set out in in our standards for the education and training of pharmacist independent prescribers. Some courses which were last accredited before 1 October 2022 may still be running according to the previous standards.
Course providers may stipulate additional entry requirements, so it is best to check the full entry requirements with your chosen place of study.
Two year ‘relevant experience’ requirement
The new guidance and standards above mean that pharmacists will no longer need to have two years of practice and relevant experience in a specific clinical or therapeutic area to enrol in an independent prescribing course.
From 1 October 2022 the accreditation and reaccreditation of independent prescribing courses will be to the revised standards. This will allow course providers to accept pharmacists in line with the new entry requirements for their next cohort and potentially allow the change to be implemented as early as Autumn 2022.
We recommend therefore that pharmacists wanting to apply for independent prescribing courses should check in advance with their preferred course providers to find out when they expect to be ready to accept applicants using the new entry requirements in the new revised standards.
If you are applying to a course which has not yet been reaccredited and still has the two-year 'relevant experience' requirement in place, we can confirm that relevant experience completed while provisionally registered can count towards this requirement.