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RPS publishes new guidance to support prescribing and dispensing by same healthcare professional

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The new position statement and guidance have been developed jointly with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

Recognising the changing practices in healthcare, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has revised and updated its position on the separation of prescribing and dispensing or administration of a medicine by the same healthcare professional.

It’s previous guidance, published in March 2020, restricted prescribing and dispensing by the same healthcare professional only in exceptional circumstances.

The new guidance, jointly developed with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), has made prescribing and dispensing of medicines more flexible.

It clarifies that “where there is a risk assessment in place and in the best interests of the patient, the same healthcare professional can be responsible for the prescribing and dispensing / supply / administration of medicines.”

The change in the position statement follows an extensive year-long engagement exercise with medical associations, members, fellows, expert advisory groups, patient groups and the RPS Country Boards.

The statement recognises that independent prescribers across all professions are already prescribing and supplying or administering medicines.

As more pharmacists become prescribers, particularly in community settings, RPS agreed that being unable to both prescribe and dispense the medicine for the individual would “potentially have a negative impact on the patient experience and care.”

RPS President Professor Claire Anderson commented: “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 from getting the medicines they need quickly.

“Our 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.

“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 the new guidance aligns with the evolving roles of nurses and patient-centred care.

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