Northern Ireland pharmacists are prescribing safely and appropriately, a new study has found.
The study found widespread acceptance of pharmacist prescribing by patients and medical colleagues.
The report, commissioned by the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and the HSC R&D Division of the Public Health Agency (PHA), is the first evaluation of independent prescribing by non-medical prescribers in Northern Ireland since legislation in 2006 enabled nurses and pharmacists to independently prescribe.
Dr Norman Morrow, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, DHSSPS, welcomed the research findings saying: "The development of non-medical prescribing is a key policy initiative that aims to maximise benefits to patients and the health service by increasing patient choice, providing better access to medicines and maximising workforce skills. This research provides encouraging evidence of pharmacist prescribers managing patient care safely and effectively with wide acceptance from their patients and healthcare colleagues.
"The findings also indicate the need for more effective engagement of pharmacists within the Health Service to utilise their new skills and increase their contribution to improved patient care."
The research, which took place over an 18-month period between 2009 and 2011, involved an evaluation of pharmacist prescribing from the perspective of patients, pharmacists, medical colleagues and key stakeholders.
Professor Carmel Hughes from Queen's University Belfast, who led the research team, said: "Our research shows that patients and other healthcare professionals value the contribution that pharmacist prescribers make to patient care.
"We also made a number of recommendations including the need to increase awareness of pharmacy prescribing, overcome barriers that are preventing pharmacists from using their prescribing skills and address educational needs. There also needs to be more research on how pharmacist prescribers can contribute more fully to patient care while working within teams."
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, PHA, said: "Research plays a vital role in helping us to work together to improve health and wellbeing.
"This report will help to make the best use of the skills of our pharmacists in supporting the public to engage effectively in managing their own health."
Contact PHA Press Office Tel: (028) 9055 3663
Notes to the editor
- 'An evaluation of pharmacy prescribing in Northern Ireland - a quantitative and qualitative assessment': Professor Carmel Hughes, Dr Laura McCann, Dr Fran Lloyd, Dr Sharon Haughey, Dr Carole Parsons, Dr Grainne Crealey, Dr Gerard J Gormley. http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/publications
- This study is the first evaluation of independent prescribing by non-medical prescribers in Northern Ireland since legislation in 2006 enabled nurses and pharmacists to independently prescribe across an extensive range of medicines.
- The research involved an evaluation of pharmacist prescribing in Northern Ireland from the perspective of patients, pharmacists, medical colleagues and key stakeholders. It took place over an 18 month period, between 2009 and 2011 and comprised of three phases; Phase 1 (questionnaire study), Phase 2 (semi-structured interviews with pharmacists, mentors and stakeholders) and Phase 3 (three case studies of pharmacist prescribing in primary and secondary care).