Independent prescribing: are you following the script?

30 April 2021
Spring 2021

The processes around issuing prescriptions can be confusing. Steve Smethurst asks: what’s required from independent prescribers and what differences divide the UK’s four nations?

The need for timely prescribing to facilitate excellent patient care has grown with the advent of acute eye care services in community settings, and as independent prescribers (IPs) provide patients with faster access to treatments. IP status also demonstrates a commitment to continuous self-development.

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Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, Clinical Adviser for the College, who is himself IP qualified, says that between 5% and 6.5% of current registrants are IP-qualified, but the list is growing and six UK universities now offer IP programmes. Optometrists can prescribe any licensed medicine for conditions affecting the eye and surrounding tissues within their recognised area of expertise and competence (with the exception of controlled drugs or medicines for parenteral administration). IPs can both prescribe privately and, where suitable arrangements have been made, write an NHS prescription.

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