Prescribing safely – knowing your limits and working within them
The number of pharmacists qualified as prescribers is rapidly growing, as the way in which people access pharmacy services changes, and the roles that pharmacy professionals take in lots of different settings diversify.
We expect that the current figure of around 15% of the pharmacists on our register having a prescribing annotation will keep on rising – but it’s not just a question of quantity, but of making sure those prescribers always provide safe and effective pharmacy care, in all settings.
We are seeing increasing numbers of pharmacist prescribers working in primary care and in other settings such as online pharmacies, as demonstrated in our recent survey of registered pharmacy professionals.
These new roles and service models can present new challenges for pharmacist prescribers. It’s essential for pharmacist prescribers to be aware of, and work within, their competence and scope of practice, and to make sure that they can always justify their prescribing decisions.
We have recently seen some examples of inappropriate prescribing and have taken action in a number of instances, including referring those involved to fitness to practise, where appropriate.
Our new guidance for pharmacist prescribers sets out what both pharmacist prescribers and the organisations that employ them should consider, to make sure people receive safe and effective care. The guidance emphasises that pharmacist prescribers must be able to justify their decisions and use their professional judgement in the best interests of the person receiving care, in all contexts.
We want this guidance to provide a useful framework for prescribers and their employers to help make sure that through the services they provide, patients are safely prescribed medicines that are clinically appropriate for them.