Government plans to hasten patient treatment has included bestowing nurses and pharmacists with the right to prescribe several drugs.
Under this plan, nurses and pharmacists can undertake extra training in order to prescribe medicines for common illnesses that range from acne to tonsillitis.
AdvertisementMany nurses already run their own specialist clinics and will soon be able to prescribe drugs even for long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes.
Nurses already have powers to prescribe over 180 prescription only medicines where as pharmacists have been prescribing in partnership with doctors from 2003. These powers have now been widened so that patients have more choice in their sources of prescriptions.
The British Medical Association (BMA) had branded the government's move as "irresponsible and dangerous" saying it put patients at risk. They opined that health worker, not trained to diagnose disease were probably not in a position to prescribe appropriate treatment.
However the Health Department has mooted the move saying that this would take pressure off the GPs giving them time to focus on more complex cases.
According to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt the move was a "major advance" in improving accessibility.
A post-graduate prescribing training course has been recommended to nurses and pharmacists in order to take on their new roles. Once trained, they would be expected to keep their skills up to date.