Supplementary nurse prescribing for patients with skin conditions: a national questionnaire survey


  • Nicola Carey MPH,

  • Molly Courtenay PhD,

  • Joanna Burke PhD

Nicola Carey
School of Health and Social Care
University of Reading
Telephone: 0118 3785851


Aim.  To examine the prescribing practices of supplementary nurse prescribers (working in both primary and secondary care) who prescribe medicines for patients with skin conditions and the factors that facilitate or inhibit this mode of prescribing.

Background.  Nurses work in a variety of roles, with varying levels of expertise, are involved in the treatment management of a broad range of skin diseases. Skin conditions are those for which independent nurse prescribers prescribe most frequently. The role of the nurse, limitations of the formulary and inter-professional relationships influence the prescribing practices of these nurses. There is no evidence currently available examining the impact and activity of supplementary nurse prescribing for patients with skin conditions.

Methods.  A convenient sample of 580 nurses who prescribed for skin conditions and were qualified supplementary nurse prescriber, self-completed a written questionnaire.

Results.  Five hundred and twenty (89·7%) nurses were based in primary care and worked in general practice. Four hundred and thirty-six (75%) held a degree level qualification or higher, 41 (7%) had specialist dermatology training and 512 (88·3%) had more than 10 years postregistration nursing experience. Supplementary prescribing was used by a minority of nurses. Nurses who had specialist dermatology training used this mode of prescribing most frequently. Doctor and pharmacists lack of understanding of supplementary prescribing, lack of peer support and clinical management plans prevented the implementation of this mode of prescribing.

Conclusions.  Supplementary prescribing is used by a minority of nurses to treat skin conditions. A number of factors prevent nurses from using this mode of prescribing including lack of specialist training and lack of support in practice.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Specialist dermatology training, an understanding of supplementary prescribing by the members of the healthcare team, and support in practice are required if supplementary prescribing is to be implemented effectively for the treatment of skin conditions.