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Guidance issued on prescribing responsibilities

The BMA welcomes the improved clarity

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

NHS England has produced new guidance to provide clarity over prescribing responsibilities.

Previous guidance, published in 1991, identified that patients were being caught in the middle where there was a lack of agreement over prescribing responsibilities, and noted a lack of consultation between professionals over transferring of prescribing responsibilities.

The new guidance, published this week, aims to provide clarity on the responsibilities of all professionals involved in commissioning and prescribing across primary, secondary and tertiary care (and includes community and specialised services, and care for those patients in secure residential settings) and to provide support in developing shared care agreements and in the transfer of care.

In the guidance, Responsibility for prescribing between Primary & Secondary/Tertiary Care it is made clear that referral to the GP should only take place once the GP has agreed to this in each individual case, and the hospital or specialist will continue to provide prescriptions until a successful transfer of responsibilities. The guidance states: “The GP should confirm the agreement and acceptance of the shared care prescribing arrangement and that supply arrangements have been finalised. The secondary/tertiary provider must supply an adequate amount of the medication to cover the transition period. The patient should then be informed to obtain further prescriptions from the GP.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) has welcomed the report.

BMA GP committee prescribing lead Dr Andrew Green said: “We’re pleased this guidance clarifies the steps that need to be taken to ensure safe, efficient care for patients passing between different parts of the health service.

"It is vital that doctors and managers within hospital trusts, clinical commissioning groups and local medical committees work together to make sure local arrangements follow these principles.”

Commenting, BMA consultants committee deputy chair Dr Gary Wannan said: "Doctors are working together across hospitals and general practice every day to make sure patients receive their right medicines, whether in a hospital ward or local GP surgery.

"This guidance makes it all the clearer which doctor has responsibility for these medicines so that patients can be assured of receiving the best treatment and care.”

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