Public health nurses to supply medicines in emergencies, agency proposes

Nurses may be authorised to supply and administer vaccines and other medicines during outbreaks of infectious diseases

Some 300 nurses employed by Public Health England (PHE) may be authorised to supply and administer vaccines and other medicines during outbreaks of infectious diseases, under a new proposal to issue patient group directions (PGDs). 

PGDs are written instructions for the supply or administration of medicines to groups of patients who may not be individually identified before presentation for treatment. 

According to PHE, the move would improve the NHS’s capacity to respond to large-scale and high-risk medical situations requiring a complex and speedy response. The organisation is now consulting on the proposal to give it the authority to develop and approve PGDs. 

In total, PHE employs 6,000 staff in centres across England, but to begin with the proposed PGD would only apply to its 300 nurses. 

The consultation closes on 31 October 2014. A similar consultation has also been launched to give the same powers to the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 4 October 2014, Vol 293, No 7830;293(7830):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066620