Non-medical prescribing in the United Kingdom National Health Service: a systematic policy review

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Abstract

Introduction: Non-medical prescribing was introduced into the United Kingdom (UK) to improve patient care, through extending healthcare professionals’ roles. More recent government health service policy focuses on the increased demand and the need for efficiency. This systematic policy review aimed to describe any changes in government policy position and the role that non-medical prescribing plays in healthcare provision.

Method: The systematic policy review included policy and consultation documents that describe independent non-medical prescribing. A pre-defined protocol was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42015019786). Professional body websites, other relevant websites and the following databases were searched to identify relevant documents: HMIC, Lexis Nexis, UK Government Web Archive, UKOP, UK Parliamentary Papers and Web of Science. Documents published between 2006 and February 2018 were included.

Results and discussion: Following exclusions, 45 documents were selected for review; 23 relating to policy or strategy and 22 to consultations. Of the former, 13/23 were published 2006–2010 and the remainder since 2013. Two main themes were identified: chronological aspects and healthcare provision. In the former, a publication gap for policy documents resulted from a change in government and associated major healthcare service reorganisation. In the later, the role of non-medical prescribing was found to have evolved to support efficient service delivery, and cost reduction. For many professions, prescribing appears embedded into practice; however, the pharmacy profession continues to produce policy documents, suggesting that prescribing is not yet perceived as normal practice.

Conclusion: Prescribing appears to be more easily adopted into practice where it can form part of the overall care of the patient. Where new roles are required to be established, then prescribing takes longer to be universally adopted. While this review concerns policy and practice in the UK, the aspect of role adoption has wider potential implications.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0214630
Number of pages29
JournalPLoSONE
Volume14
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2019