The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said that the same healthcare professional can safely be responsible for the prescribing, dispensing, supply and administration of medicines, where clinical circumstances make it necessary and it is in the best interests of the patient.
Previous RPS guidance, published in 2020, emphasised the need for separation of prescribing and dispensing, other than in exceptional circumstances, which was based on a government-commissioned report published in 1999.
The RPS’s new position statement, along with supporting professional guidance, published on 19 January 2024, has been developed jointly with the Royal College of Nursing, (RCN) following a year-long engagement exercise with medical associations, RPS members, Fellows, expert advisory groups, patient groups and the RPS country boards.
It recognises that independent prescribers across all professions are already prescribing and supplying or administering medicines for the same patient, and that being unable to do so could have a negative impact on patient experience and care.
In these situations, the guidance says that a risk assessment should be conducted to establish if prescribing, dispensing and supply or administration of medicines by the same person is in the best interests of the patient.
It adds that there should be a “robust audit trail of the decisions and the actions taken”, which should then be communicated with other professionals supporting the patient’s care.
Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, said that the revised position “acknowledges the changing landscape of education, training and practice related to prescribing and aims to address the needs of an increasingly diverse and dynamic healthcare system”.
She added: “Following a consultation with a prescribing pharmacist, a patient may be asked to go to a different pharmacy to have the medicine dispensed, which may not be practical and may also delay or prevent patients who are unwell getting the medicines they need quickly.
“Allowing flexibility in prescribing and dispensing practices ensures that patient safety remains paramount, while adapting to rapidly changing healthcare practice. The heart of this change is centred on the delivery of effective and patient-centred care by healthcare professionals, including pharmacists.”
Heather Randle, UK nursing professional lead for primary care at the RCN, said: “This more flexible approach to the prescribing, dispensing, supply and administration of medicines aligns with the evolving roles of nurses and aligns with patient-centred care. As we navigate these changes, the new guidance will ensure that best practice remains at the heart of patient care and safety.”