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GP mythbuster 95: Non-medical prescribing

  • Organisations we regulate

The number of non-medical prescribers (NMPs) in primary care is increasing.

Non-medical prescribing can:

  • give patients quicker, more efficient access to medicines
  • make best use of healthcare professionals’ skills
  • help address demand and workforce issues.

We look at how NMPs work in a GP practice when we consider these key lines of enquiry:

The NMP role

In the UK, a range of non-medical healthcare professionals can qualify as NMPs. In general practice, most NMPs are pharmacists or nurses. They could also be for example, paramedics or physiotherapists.

NMPs can be independent or supplementary prescribers.

Independent prescribing

The prescriber takes responsibility for:

  • clinical assessment of the patient
  • establishing a diagnosis
  • clinical management
  • prescribing

Supplementary prescribing

This is a voluntary partnership between an independent prescriber and a supplementary prescriber. They implement an agreed clinical management plan (CMP) for a specific patient with the patient’s consent.

You can only use supplementary prescribing after:

  • assessment and diagnosis by an independent prescriber. This must be a doctor or dentist.
  • the independent and supplementary prescribers develop a written CMP together. The CMP lists medicines that can be prescribed for the patient.

Qualifications and professional standards

NMPs must:

  • be registered with the relevant professional regulator
  • have their prescribing qualification annotated on the register.

To gain this, NMPs must undertake an accredited non-medical prescribing programme, at a higher education institution. These programmes provide the knowledge, skills and training to prescribe safely and competently.

NMPs should work to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s 'A Competency Framework for All Prescribers'. NMPs should not prescribe outside their competency. Practices should have systems to make sure NMPs are working within their competence.

Medical indemnity

All NMPs must have adequate medical indemnity. This is part of the requirements of registration with their professional body. This indemnity should include their NMP role.

The Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice in England and Wales covers everyone providing NHS services for general practice. This includes non-medical prescribers. The indemnity scheme does not cover non-NHS work. It does not provide legal representation for inquests and disciplinary investigations.

When we inspect

If you employ NMPs in a prescribing role you should be able to show how you:

  • make sure they are and continue to be competent.
  • have systems in place to audit all prescribing, including NMPs. You should have evidence of outcomes and learning from these audits available.
  • support NMPs continuing professional development.

That NMPs:

  • are appropriately qualified
  • have their entry annotated on their professional body register
  • have adequate indemnity cover for their NMP role.


Last updated:
28 April 2021